Crash Bandicoot has been the topic of discussion today after a Microsoft listing gave the game a micro transaction warning. Influencers and reviewers everywhere jumped to their keyboards to destroy this development. It appears, however, that this may have been premature rage. After last year’s Crash Team Racing debacle, the rage is understandable.
Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled released to quite the acclaim last year. The original PS1 title, while at least inspired by Mario Kart, stands on its own merits and was quite beloved. The nitro fueled version not only has all the PS1 tracks lovingly recreated from the ground up, but also all the levels from the PS2’s nitro kart. There are a host of characters and different skins to unlock in game. Add to that a robust online multiplayer with new tracks still being added to this day and you WOULD have had an instant classic.
That was until the micro transactions attacked. Added well after release, Activision employed a somewhat scummy tactic to get people enamored with the game, positive reviews, and a few months of sales with no micro transaction warnings on the game box. Then when everyone was hooked, they switched to a monetization method. Before they were added, players could freely collect numerous amounts of wumpa coins naturally in order to unlock a variety of new skins for both characters and karts. After the addition, wumpa coins were given out in such small quantities, the only way to guarantee you could unlock your favorite skin before time was up was by buying more from the PS4 store.
It is a highly contentious subject and still serves as a prime example of delayed addition of micro transactions to this date. Other games have followed suit. It serves mainly as a way to get around the ESRB label. It’s a trend that has slowly petered out in recent times. Good. The ESRB label was added after many parents weren’t aware that certain games had additional purchases and kids were accidentally spending hefty sums. The blame isn’t solely on the parents. One could assume a rated E for everyone kart racer would be perfectly safe for children, especially after observing the kid play the game for a few hours. Mom leaves the room and suddenly paywall. With tactics like this, we could have another Star Wars Battlefront II on our hands where government gets involved. It’s a mess to be sure.
Which brings us to why this classification was such a hot button issue. Not only is it Crash which has had a game do this in the past, but also it’s Activision which is notorious for money grabbing practices. Toys for Bob has clarified since that there are no micro transactions planned. They have stated the label was a blanket warning given to all games with extra content you can download. The label is referring to the totally tubular skins you receive when buying the game digitally. Whether these skins can be added later remains to be unseen.
Skins will be part of Crash 4. In the trailer, Crash is seen in at least one costume that isn’t the digital purchase bonus. Will they keep things to just in game unlocks? Will they add these in later? There’s a lot we don’t know and, considering how the last game went, won’t know until potentially after release.
In lighter news, an email sent out to GameStop stores indicates the game will have over one hundred levels. The game will have a long life if that is the case. Whatever happens, we’ll be there crashing and bashing in this title that’s been a long time in the making. Will it live up to the original Naughty Dog trilogy or will we have another Crunch Bandicoot situation on our hands? I’m excited to find out. Can’t be worse than Crash Purple.