Chocobo GP seemed like a welcome surprise when it was announced last year. It was pitched as a follow-up to 1999’s beloved little spin-off Chocobo Racing from the first PlayStation but this time on the portable Nintendo Switch. Mario Kart mechanics with yellow birds and Final Fantasy characters. What could go wrong? Microtransactions, apparently. Chocobo GP’s $50 price tag is ruffling players’ feathers with its free-to-play nickel-and-diming.
In terms of racing, Chocobo GP is what you’d expect. You choose a character, hop in a kart, collect power-ups, cast spells, and drift around turns. After the match is where things start to skid off the tracks. You unlock new racers and levels, yes, but also a bunch of different currencies for different types of shops where you purchase new karts, outfits, and other unlocks. There’s Gil, tickets you earn from playing the game, and Mythril you can only get by spending real money. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a free-to-play mobile game like Mario Kart Tour rather than a premium Switch game.
If you want to get Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife, for example, you need to buy Chocobo GP’s first season pass. That costs 800 Mythril. Normally, Mythril packs are $10 for 1,000, but a launch period promotion is giving out $1,600 for just $8. The game will also give you 800 Mythril just for logging on during season one. So everyone playing at launch will technically get the season pass for free. Read the fine print though and you’ll see that the complimentary 800 Mythril expires if not used within five months (the Mythril you pay for yourself remains).
Unsurprisingly, this is all leaving a bad taste in some players’ mouths. Here’s how one player put it on the Final Fantasy subreddit:
Legitimately had no idea about all of this microtransaction crap, booted up the game, was greeted immediately with in-game currency you buy with mtx, battle pass to get rewards with two tiers, and the entire design making it feel like my nintendo switch is a phone. Like am I paying a $50 game or a f2p mobile game? Even Halo Infinite didn’t make theirs as atrocious as this.
It’s not immediately clear how long it would take players to grind for characters like Cloud and Final Fantasy VIII’s Squall Leonhart, who costs 3,000 Gil, but the pay-to-collect mechanics being there at all and promoted so aggressively, undercuts the otherwise wholesome aesthetic of a chibi bird racing with friends. Especially when they’re deployed to get you to spend more money.
Look how happy Chocobo and Shirma are celebrating their haul of Mythril from the latest sale. Wouldn’t you like to be that happy? This is a kid’s game after all.
The Mythril economy wasn’t live during reviewers’ time with Chocobo GP (Square Enix did not provide Kotaku with a copy), but some critics called it out anyway. While the first season pass is free, future ones seemingly won’t be, and there are a lot of other fan favorites from the Final Fantasy universe who could end up getting gated behind a premium paywall as a result. Square Enix didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.