New BMW owners will now experience a pain that the gaming community knows all too well: microtransactions. You know the feeling. You’ve been grinding away for days - weeks - all to unlock that new skin or weapon you’ve had your eyes on forever… only to find it’s trapped behind a paywall.
With all other options exhausted, you’re faced with a choice. Resist, and keep going without something that’s rightfully yours, or give in and fork up even more cash for something you’ve already paid full price to have.
For people buying the new BMW 530e, and other models soon to come, an alarmingly large number of features will be locked behind paywalls. Monthly subscriptions, or pricey one time fees will be required to use them. This tweet shows the system in action for the car’s high beam assist.
Night drive in a 530e. Pressed the high beam assist button, but a message from the car essentially said "no, you need to buy the feature first on the ConnectedDrive store." BMW and Merc both keen to do this more in future, so this won't be the first time we'll see it... pic.twitter.com/hQzkwhP1Oe— Jake Groves (@_jakegroves) March 24, 2021
Even the language used, “Function acquirable,” sounds like an NPC urging you complete a certain side quest to unlock optimally functioning headlights. Only in this case that side quest means dishing out $12 a month, or $237 for unlimited use.
Cars have always had options for luxury and performance features, each driving the cost of the car up and up. But the difference is that these features will ALREADY BE on the 530e, just with a software blocking their functionality. Things like heated seats and steering wheels, entertainment systems, and even map features will be guarded. Next thing you know we’ll be buying loot boxes for bluetooth.
While most of these features are for the sake of luxury, it’s startling BMW can get away with it for features with a safety element, like their automatic high beams. After all, without it, BMW drivers will have to turn off the high beams themselves, and we all know that’s something they’re not capable of.