Letty's Sting Ray from The Fate of the Furious showed up as a premium microtransaction in CSR Racing 2 earlier this week. It cost $US4.99 ($6) to unlock. Or $US14.99 ($19). Or $US34.99 ($45). According to Zynga, prices for the premium vehicle were set to random as part of a feature test. Really.
The situation came to our attention via a Reddit thread, in which a player posted the response given them by Zynga support upon realising that they were being asked to pay $US14.99 ($19) for a vehicle one of their crew mates had purchased for only $US4.99 ($6).
Image via smhallguy on Reddit, and whichever poor support bastard had to type out that response.
Other players chimed in with the prices they were seeing, ranging from $US4.99 ($6) on up to $US35 ($45). Logging into the game on my iPad, I was offered the car at the lowest price.
It had to be some sort of fluke. Surely a mobile game company would not randomly assign prices to a piece of content to test whatever it is the feature is supposed to be testing. How much people are willing to pay? That's what coming out at a high price and then slowly lowering it over time is all about.
I reached out to Zynga, who told me that the CSR Racing 2 team was testing a new event, and that testing had led to different players being "surfaced" different versions of the event containing different prices.
So was it a mistake born of testing, or a deliberate result of the testing? A post on the Zynga support page this morning clarified the situation.
From time to time we test different features in the game, and on this occasion the price of the cars was set randomly as part of a test. While the test has been completed and everyone should now have the same experience in CSR2, we want to acknowledge that we heard from many of you that this test created a poor experience.
I cannot imagine a test like this being implemented without the expectation that many people would be angry. Hell, I'm angry and I didn't even want the car in the first place.
We apologise for any frustration this test may have caused and want to assure you it was done at random and not based on player history. Testing features is an important part of game development but we're sorry this test missed the mark and disrupted your game experience.
Well at least they apologised.
The car is now set at its intended price of $US14.99 ($19), meaning folks like me who could have purchased it yesterday for $US4.99 ($6) but were too confused about the whole pricing situation to pull the trigger on it missed out on saving $US10 ($13).
Players who purchased Letty's Sting Ray at the highest price of $US35 ($45) will be receiving a special in-game compensation package within the next 24 hours, which sounds a lot like not getting the extra $US20 ($26) back. I'd suggest going through Google Play or iTunes and requesting a refund, linking to the support page as evidence that this is some bullshit.