Home Technology BMW is planning to add microtransactions to its cars

BMW is planning to add microtransactions to its cars

3 min read

Microtransactions are a plague that has ruined gaming for many people. While it works for many free to play games, its introduction into games that are paid for has not been well received over the years. With the practice allowing developers to find ways for gamers to keep paying to just use features that should form part of the core experience, the practice has become a blight for many popular titles where developers are trying to extract extra money for ballooning development budgets and costs that they incur just to maintain many a game’s online presence.

The problem with microtransactions though, is that they do keep making money, which is why studios continue to make use of them. And now prepare to hate them even more as it appears that the idea is going beyond just the realm of games with BMW looking to introduce the concept into their cars as well.

The car manufacturer announced this new overhaul to its digital systems, which includes a new map and navigation system, a revamped digital assistant, a previously announced “digital key”, and wireless Android Auto. But the most interesting change coming its way will be in how it will allow users of its newest “Operating System 7” software to tinker and make changes to all sorts of functions in the car, like access to heated seats and adaptive cruise control. All at a cost of course. So essentially, what this means is that the manufacturer will build all cars with the same advanced features, but that only the ones activated and paid for by drivers will be available to them. Considering most of their cars don’t come with indicators as standard despite their expensive purchase prices though, I suspect this is something BMW drivers won’t mind too much.

It’s honestly a very interesting approach from the German auto-manufacturer. On the one hand, having all cars built to the same spec with all add-ons included makes production a lot easier, but it does also mean that each expensive feature is added, whether paid for or not and so they would need to find a way of balancing that. There is also the inevitable risk of the system being hacked and drivers getting access to all the features without paying for it. Something which people will no doubt find a way of doing quickly.

Where BMW could really make a fortune out of this is in the secondhand market. As these features will likely be subscribed to for a period of time before a renewal fee will be required, meaning they can keep milking people long after the car has been purchased. Honestly, I’m not sure I like the whole idea of this. While I can see the appeal to BMW financial, with the amount of money you already spend on cars, you would expect to get things standard and you shouldn’t need to subscribe to services to just use what comes normally with your car. Hopefully this experiment fails and people opt to not use these new features, but if it does work, expect the whole car manufacturing world to be in on this microtransaction game. As gamers, we all know how badly this is going to end up.

Last Updated: July 3, 2020


  1. Hammersteyn

    July 3, 2020 at 13:31

    Will these new cars be serviced by surprise mechanics?


  2. konfab

    July 3, 2020 at 13:36

    Now BMW drivers will claim their indicators being behind pay walls are the reason why they don’t indicate.


    • Hammersteyn

      July 3, 2020 at 13:41

      I thought they were saving electricity for Eskom


  3. Gavin Mannion

    July 3, 2020 at 15:10

    Tesla already do this, if you buy a Tesla with the full autopilot enabled and then sell it to someone else they will remotely disable the auto pilot.

    They also remove your access to their charging network if you pick up a scrapped one and build it back up


  4. Iskape

    July 3, 2020 at 14:20

    I think it will work with certain manufacturers. What’s the point of BMW and Mercedes-Benz branded items (shirts, shoes, jackets, etc.)? Nothing really. All it proves is that people are willing to pay a premium for something that has a brand name. Plus, people love uniqueness, so I expect on the basis of that alone many would pay for extras.


  5. Paul

    July 5, 2020 at 11:34

    this is a road to hell. its another inevitable end game to ‘you dont really own what you buy’.

    do not underestimate where this road leads. its inevitable conclusion will be that you will have to pay to reach your destination faster. to avoid traffic jams etc.

    as we move further in to a world which promotes profit over all things…

    this is what people should be on streets up in arms about.


  6. Pofadder

    July 6, 2020 at 09:36

    This is going to backfire spectacularly. And once the warranty has expired i guarantee there will be hacked software to load that enable all the features.


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