analysis

Konami Is Walking A Tightrope With Metal Gear Solid V In-App Transactions

by Mike Futter on Sep 01, 2015 at 09:30 AM

There are things we are unlikely to change, no matter how much we despise them. Pre-order bonuses aren’t going anywhere. Season passes with unspecified content are a growing trend. In-app transactions in full-priced games make too much money to abandon.

The question then becomes one of nuance, and it becomes our job to discern whether they are being implemented in consumer-friendly ways. By all accounts, Metal Gear Solid V’s forward operating base (FOB) feature is perched on a knife-edge.

Unlike completely segmented modes like the wildly popular Ultimate Team offerings in EA Sports games (which bring in huge revenues for the publisher), The Phantom Pain’s FOB mode is integrated with the single-player.

FOBs allow you to assign additional personnel to your teams, in turn speeding up development of gear and weapons. It has a very real impact on the single-player game, even if you remove the FOB’s competitive, Clash of Clans-like invasion feature.

You get to establish one FOB for free, with additional bases purchased with Mother Base (MB) coins. For the most part, these must be purchased, with the most expensive bundle hitting your wallet for $50. 

The second FOB will run you between 1,000 and 1,200 coins. A bundle of 1,150 MB coins will set you back $9.99 in the PlayStation Store. You can earn a relatively small amount with some daily login bonuses, but it appears that it will take quite a while to earn enough for even one more base.

Senior reviews editor Joe Juba finished the entire single player game without using FOB much. But when he did take advantage of the feature, its impact was noticeable and substantial. Right now, the FOB system is remarkable for a completely different reason: it’s not working.

Earlier today, Konami drastically scaled back the mode amidst significant server congestion. Many can’t access their Ground Zeroes saves for import or the FOB mode, and those that can are experiencing severely reduced functionality.

Joe also mentioned in our conversation that simply being online is causing significant lag in accessing menus in the single-player game. Disconnecting restored functionality, but also prevents any chance of accessing the FOB feature and its valuable rewards. 

Mind you that this is all happening before Konami even launches its true online mode, Metal Gear Online. At this point we don’t know how MB Coins will be used (if at all) in that mode, and I suspect that the server problems we’re seeing today will repeat themselves. This assumes that this isn’t a Driveclub-like situation that continues over a prolonged period.

If the in-app transactions tied to FOB mode weren’t so oppressive, it would be much easier to forgive launch day jitters. But right now, Konami is taking revenue from MB Coin bundles and is unable to deliver the functionality for which they are used. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Tensions are already high around Metal Gear Solid V. The confusion around Kojima’s position with the publisher have created a situation in which people love the game and its creator, but not the company bringing it to market. 

The situation is a powder keg, the in-app transactions the match, and the servers the unsteady hand that could see it all explode. Where it goes from here is entirely under Konami’s control.