Today marked the release of Ridge Racer: Slipstream (unless you're an Android user, that is) as a birthday present to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary. However, despite it looking like a potential return to form that rekindles the traditional Ridge Racer spirit that's been somewhat lost in recent installments, the inclusion of micro-transactions are causing fans to steer cautiously. It could be forgivable if this was a traditional free-to-play mobile racer, but Ridge Racer: Slipstream is a paid game, putting it in-line with the considerable controversy garnered from Forza Motorsport 5 and Gran Turismo 6's devious monetisation.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Namco Bandai defend their decision to incorporate what has become a notorious business model: "As opposed to many games that have in-app purchases, the difference here is you don't have to spend any money to get the entire game," explained Alexandre Adjadj, Director of mobile sales and strategic development at Namco Bandai Games America.
"It plays like any console game. You start the game then you unlock new cars and new tracks."
What contradicts this, however, is that you apparently have to wait for a car to be delivered when you buy one. Shelling out mico-transactions will speed up this process. Elsewhere, it's pretty much standard-fare – micro-transactions can be used to purchase additional cars and tracks if you can't be bothered to grind through the main game to unlock them, and you can buy additional parts for you car such as exhausts and engines that you can keep forever. Car perks such as nitrous, on the other hand, expire after use.
"You can get by by paying nothing else than the premium price the game will be at when it's launched," Adjadj added. "You can finish the game and unlock everything and spend nothing. Additionally, all the updates, the more tracks, cars and game modes we will release in the future will be free."
Adjadj said Ridge Racer Slipstream's value for money was "so much higher than anything else that has been published on portable consoles in the past few years when it comes to Ridge Racer".
"I think fans of the franchise will be happy and new entrants to the franchise will be quite excited."
Traditionally, RIdge Racer has always launched alongside every PlayStation console on day one. This tradition was sadly broken with the release of the PS4, but don't rule out hope of a return of the series on next-gen consoles just yet. "If this game is critically and commercially successful there is a strong possibility that something might be done for next-gen," Adjadj said. "It's not like they're not thinking about it. It might make them think, hey, let's do a free to play Ridge Racer game, or a boxed game, or a $49.99 special edition Ridge Racer HD Collection."