Gamespot recently reported that The Phantom Pain‘s Souls-like Foward Operating Base feature would be locked behind a pay wall, requiring “MB coins” to access. This is apparently evidenced by the fact that in the process of reviewing MGSV, Gamespot was unable to access the F.O.B. feature via any means other than purchasing MB coins, which of course won’t be available until the game’s launch on September 1st. Naturally, a lot of people are upset about this, and many sites are running with the story. But can we all calm down for a second, back up a bit, and really unpack this?
The video at the top of this article was posted some time ago, and I know it’s easy to lose it in myriad of gameplay demos that have been released over the last year for MGSV, but it’s worth noting that microtransactions are outlined right at the start. What it boils down to is this:
- Yes, microtransactions are a thing
- No, you don’t NEED it to unlock anything. All items, missions, and modes are available in-game.
- MB coins exist because the game is so broad that they want to give people an option to see everything it contains without having to sink a lot of time into it. Alternatively, and more likely, they exist so Konami can make more money, what on account of them being real scummy.
So what it sounds like is they’re… microtransactions, like what you would find in a cell phone game (wait a second…) You won’t need them to enjoy any of the content in MGSV, though it will speed up construction, item acquisition, and – most likely where the wires are getting crossed – water in which you can expand your F.O.B. It’s very likely that the final game will allow you to purchase water to build new platforms with in-game currency in addition to MB coins, just like how most F2P games handle this sort of thing. At least, that’s how it sounds like from what is being presented in the above demo.
Now having said all of that, it’s true that Gamespot wasn’t able to access the F.O.B. mode, and that is a little weird. It’s entirely possible that Konami has decided to muck about with it more than they originally intended, or that the company is still working on ironing a few things out with the mode and felt it wasn’t in their best interest to make it accessible in review copies. Gamespot did press Konami for clarification, and received the following statement:
“…unfortunately we don’t have any official details to share at the moment regarding the microtransaction model for F.O.B.. We should have more information for you next week though as those details are still being solidified.”
There’s a good chance it all boils down to poor communication. Microtransactions in MGSV do seem like a relatively new thing, and Konami has made it clear that they haven’t quit pinned the model down. However, Kojima Productions have stated that microtransactions are a “completely optional feature,” and that the game will be balanced such that nothing is unobtainable through normal play.
What I’m getting at is this: MGSV is a week away, and with the current state of games as a whole, it’s perfectly fine to be a bit worried about whether a game will work, if modes will function (or even be included) as promised, etc. Microtransactions are confirmed, that much is true, and it’s shitty to have them in place for a game that already costs $60. However, the likelihood that from E3 until now Konami has decided to take a well-advertised part of the core game and block it behind a pay wall is fairly low. It’s possible, Konami is kind of a hot mess these days, but the odds – when considering information previously given on the topic – seem more favorable than not.
If you’re going to worry about anything with regards to microtransactions in The Phantom Pain, it’s should be over how well they’re balanced. And if for some reason my take on this turns out to be wrong, I’ll post a video of Werner Herzog eating a shoe. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Konami has clarified to Gamespot that the F.O.B. component of MGSV is “fully accessible at launch and the microtransaction layer to that specific feature in the game primarily acts as an accelerator,” which aligns with the information given in the E3 2015 demo that you might recall came out weeks prior to all this.
Looks like we won’t have to endure Herzog eating his shoe.