Angry Birds Go’s Microtransactions Are Anything but Micro
I don’t talk about microtransactions in games very often because I keep hoping that they’ll go away if we just ignore them. However, sometimes, we just have to shame the developers who are making massive cash grabs with ridiculous microtransactions in their games.
The next entry into the Angry Birds franchise is kart racing game Angry Birds Go. The iOS soft launch of the game in New Zealand has revealed some shady microtransaction practices.
It’s not unexpected for a free-to-play game like those of the Angry Birds franchise to have microtransactions so the dev can make money off the game. However, in addition to the microtransactions, Angry Birds Go also has ads in the game to make Rovio money without the need for microtransactions.
However, if there’s something that can be locked out, Rovio has found a way to put a price tag on it and if you can’t be bothered to grind your way to sufficient in-game money to pay these items, you can jump the proverbial queue and spend real money. Lots of it.
So let’s get into the list. Your bird has a limited number of free special power uses before you have to buy gems for real money to buy additional uses. You can grind coins (the in-game currency) to upgrade your kart (which needs to be done to unlock higher level races) or you can just pay your way to a better kart. You can buy a new kart seeing as they’re only upgradeable to a certain point. And, of course, you can just buy more coins with real money.
The best microtransaction might just be buying the Big Bang Special Edition kart. That will set you back $100. That’s not a microtransaction. That’s two new triple-A games on Steam. When you think of it in terms of opportunity cost, that one is just unjustifiable.
As I said earlier, it’s not like you have to pay for these things. However, at first, you’re locked to two tracks and a limited number of drivers (which can only be used in five races before requiring a break to recharge, unless you want to pay to hit the track again instantly). That would certainly make people a little more inclined to pay real money.
Every once in a while, I get my consumer’s interest hat on. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as justified as this. There are going to be a lot of kids running up quite a bill because of money-grubbing “micro”transactions such as these. Rovio should backpedal hard and include an unlock everything at once option for $10 or $20 but that’s not going to earn them enough money, not when there’s a $100 car on offer. It’s sad when games are developed specifically to siphon money rather than be games. Shame, Rovio. Shame.