Konami Ingeniously Fuses Two Things Everybody Hates: Insurance And In-Game Microtransactions

from the nickel-and-dime dept

Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a fantastic game. I’m about 70% through according to the game’s completion status, and while in typical Hideo Kojima fashion the plot is an incoherent mess, the level of polish and detail in the game is unprecedented. But sometimes a great, well-reviewed $60 game just isn’t good enough. What do you do when your game breaks all manner of sales figures and is universally acclaimed? Why, you suddenly decide to saddle it with a brave new form of annoying microtransaction, of course.

Konami’s latest microtransaction for the game went live last week, and is essentially a protection racket for users who’d like to keep their character’s home fort (aka “mother base”) intact. Players can spend hours collecting resources in-game to build up their mother base with weaponry, staff, and other defenses. As you grow your micro mercenary empire you can also expand into what’s called forward operating bases (FOBs), which other players can not only invade, but steal resources and staff from. Here’s what it looks like in-game:

Don’t want this stuff stolen? You can now pay Konami for FOB insurance:

“Your FOBs are always at risk of coming under attack. Now, you can rest easy with FOB insurance (paid service). If you sign up for insurance, then during the insurance period you will be compensated for any materials and staff lost due to rival infiltrations…Staff/materials stolen by the rival will in fact remain on your base, and an identical amount of staff/materials will be handed over to the rival instead.

In other words, those who paid $60 for the game will have things stolen from them periodically, but those willing to pay more will avoid such a fate. Amusingly, just like real insurance, you have to keep consistently paying to remain covered, and there are a number of things the insurance won’t cover:

“FOB insurance isn’t a one-off payment either, with players required to renew the virtual insurance policy periodically in order to remain protected. Just like real-life, not everything will be covered by the policy either, including abducted staff being held in the Brig; wounded staff (although, staff lost due to death or extraction will be compensated); staff used in defence of the FOB; and nuclear weapons.”

You pay for the insurance with MB coins, which can be bought with real cash payments ranging from $1 for 100 coins to $50 for 6000, or acquired (slowly) in-game for completing tasks. One-day of coverage will cost users 50 coins, three days costs 100, a week costs 200 and two weeks costs 300 coins. Now I personally don’t give a damn as I tend to focus more on offline play to misanthropically avoid human beings, but for those who appreciate a little something called in-game balance, making the entire point of competing with other users irrelevant has justifiably raised more than a few hackles.

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Companies: konami

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Comments on “Konami Ingeniously Fuses Two Things Everybody Hates: Insurance And In-Game Microtransactions”

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32 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not to defend the insurance

Yes, alot of people are saying this. Or: “just play offline after you make the FOB”.
A couple of things that should be told also:
1.) Your FOB stays online even when you are not.
2.) If you want to unlock some of the research in single player, you have to create an FOB.
3.) If you want to avoid creating this then you have to go offline and stay offline with the game… forever.

The fact that you ever lose progress from your singleplayer game by people robbing you is an insane “feature” that will insure that when people stop playing, they stop playing for good.
If you stop playing for a while, be it that you get sick, have to concentrate on other things, or just get tired of the game and think of returning when a possible expansion is released; you would have to grind for many hours to get your staff back.
Even if you have a full staff and get robbed in the slowest possible way (losing 10 guys each day), most if not your entire staff will be gone after 6 months.

Konami are shooting themselves in the foot with this and it shouldn’t be hard to see why even the greatest of fans of this “feature” will be hit by this in the future… unless of course you buy the insurance for the time you are not playing.

Anonmylous says:

Sounds like...

just another run of the mill Empire builder app. Build a base, attack and claim land, and build new bases, all vulnerable to attack from other players. Standard micro-transactions include Peace Treaty or Truce which protects all your bases from attack or recovers lost resources, purchased hero upgrades (either items to upgrade your existing heroes or flat out better heroes), armor for heroes, build speed ups, and other such garbage to penalize non-paying players.

Wait, i thought this was a third-person shooter game?!?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

But but but how else would be we able to afford bonuses for sr. management for pushing this shitty idea onto customers?
We can force people to grind, inflating our play numbers AND rake in handfuls of cash for people not able to sit in game 24/7.

This is win win win… except for the customer who ends up losing everything because to earn enough coins required far to much effort on stupid things than enjoying the game.

Anonymous Coward says:

The micro-transaction culture is why I quit playing video games. In the early days, game developers were passionate about their art. They were gamers themselves, creating something that they themselves would want to play.

Now-a-days it’s all about micro-transactions, Disc Locked Content (DLC), Pay to Win scams that nickle and dime gamers until it’s no fun anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

The ‘best’ part of this insurance scheme is that Konami has all but made the FOB invasion system mandatory.

Even if you have no desire to ever use the multiplayer mode, after a certain mission the game will force you to create a FOB. You can’t continue the single player mode until you do. And that FOB will be vulnerable to invasion by other players. You don’t get a choice in the matter.

The only way to skip creating the FOB is to disconnect your gaming console from the internet. If you don’t want other players to invade your base and steal your resources your only options are to never play the game while connected to the internet again or to buy the insurance. It really is a protection racket.

voiceofReason (profile) says:

Looks like Techdirt has re-discovered America

Has anyone here ever played Clash of Games, that little-known game from 2-3 years ago that is one of the most popular games on ios and Android? Or how about This Means War?

In each one of those games (and probably many more I don’t play)one can buy a form of protection against being invaded and having one’s resources taken using in-game resources. Those resources can be slowly earned (or quickly and in large volume bought for real cash). In TMW they are called “Shields” and in Clash of Clans something else. In both of these games “Players can spend hours collecting resources in-game to build up their mother base with weaponry, staff, and other defenses” and then “…other players can not only invade, but steal resources…”

What makes the version of this in this game so very different as to constitute a horrible “microtransaction?” Or did Techdirt just have a slow day?

BigKeithO says:

Re: Looks like Techdirt has re-discovered America

Aren’t those games free to play? MGS5 is a $60+ AAA game, not a free to play phone game. Microtransactions are one thing if you aren’t paying anything else otherwise, paying $60 and then being offered the choice of paying insurance or having your stuff stolen is something else.

Mattmon (profile) says:

This just guarantees that everyone will use the insurance

“Staff/materials stolen by the rival will in fact remain on your base, and an identical amount of staff/materials will be handed over to the rival instead.”

So all you need to do is, buy the insurance, disable all your defenses, tell everyone “free stuff come and take it”. They get all your stuff, and then the insurance gives you everything back that they took?

Voiceofreason says:

Interesting point, in both games I mentioned, as well as I assume in the references game, raiding and stealing is a main feature, as is protecting.

Why is it wrong to impose a cost or penaltufor doing so?

One could as well argue that a person should not be permitted to voluntarily decide to build up other defenses in TMW b buying cells.

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