Even cars have Microstransactions now

A merceded EQE SUV under green lights.
(Image credit: Mercedes)

Mercedes is adapting one of the most controversial video game trends in bizarre fashion by adding microtransactions to a car.

Mercedes plans to lock the car's potential behind a staggering $1200 yearly subscription (via The Drive (opens in new tab)). This subscription gets you an 'Acceleration Increase (opens in new tab)', which boosts the potential of the car's motor by up to 20%-24%, which equates to 0.8 seconds off the 0-60 mph acceleration. This is currently available across the Mercedes-EQ range. 

The most galling thing about this fee is that there's no physical addition to the car. It's already capable of reaching these speeds, but the manufacturer is choosing to withhold the car's true performance to collect the subscription fee from the driver.

While you might think you'd only see this kind of thing in Gran Turismo 7 or Forza Motorsport, this trend of paying subscriptions or additive fees to real cars has been growing in recent years. Most relevantly, BMW also faced backlash for offering a subscription for features their cars already had built-in, such as heated seats. These kinds of microtransactions are a way for the auto industry to find more revenue after several tough years, but manufacturers nerfing their cars for extra money is a feel-bad proposition no matter what way you slice it. 

These pay structures are a staple across the gaming industry, with DLC, cosmetics and live-service regulars like seasonal content and battle passes appearing in most major AAA video games these days. Games like Fortnite, Warzone, Overwatch 2, and Apex Legends have extensive monetization that comes with expected continued use. Is it really impossible to fathom a future where you're encouraged to use your car more in a battle pass-like system? 

The continued gamification of real life reaches far beyond the car industry too. As we've seen the rise of worrying collaborations between cryptocurrency and the Metaverse, the lines do seem to be blurring further. It shows how much power the games industry has at creating market standards, even outside of the industry, and with that, a lot of potential for determining what other companies might try against their customers.

Looking for something a little less real, but equally quick? Check out our list of the best racing games. 

Guides Editor at TechRadar

Patrick Dane is currently the Guides Editor at TechRadar. However, he was formerly a freelance games journalist writing for sites and publications such as GamesRadar, Metro, IGN, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, and the International Business Times, among others. He was also once the Managing Editor for Bleeding Cool.