Ubisoft’s intriguing open world racer The Crew has always sounded ambitious, but we never expected its lofty aims to expand to its monetisation model as well. While the cross-country excursion – which will see you competing across a condensed interpretation of the United States – will release as a full-priced product for the PlayStation 4, it seems that developer Ivory Tower has been paying a little too much attention to the free-to-play space. Indeed, everything that you do in this game will have a price.
VideoGamer.com reports that the next-gen exclusive is currently riddled with microtransactions, which will allow you to pay real money for performance enhancing upgrades, vehicles, and – potentially – even fast travel. Don’t freak out just yet, though, as the studio ensures that you’ll be able to access everything in the game without punching out your credit card number – it’ll just take you a little longer to do so. Great.
“Everything in the game has got this dual currency approach,” creative director Julian Gerighty told the publication during a press tour. “We're not going to stop you from progressing [if you don't spend money], but it'll take more time.” Now, in the studio’s defence, it’s not clear how much time the developer’s referring to here. For example, Gran Turismo 6 also included microtransactions, but general gameplay allowed you to earn more than enough in-game credits to purchase the bits and bobs that you wanted in Polyphony Digital’s sequel.
It’s also worth pointing out that the title will be balanced. If you’ve only reached level 30 in the game, for instance, you won’t be able to equip a shiny level 50 exhaust part that you’ve just splashed real cash on. This should level the playing field a little, meaning that you won’t necessarily have a disadvantage against big spenders. Nevertheless, the release’s online focus will require you to have an Internet connection at all times, otherwise you’ll be booted back to the main menu.
At least the game itself sounds entertaining, combining role-playing elements with the scale of an MMO. The company needs to be clear about its implementation of microtransactions, though, because they’re allegedly attached to almost every action in this escapade at the moment. If they’re an ignorable extra, then we guess that we can just about cope with their inclusion – but if the grind becomes so big that it pushes you towards real money purchases, then we’re afraid that we may have to put our foot down.