Ace Combat Infinity Now Free in Japan: Some Thoughts

Ace Combat Infinity - AkihabaraNews.com

Free to Own, Pay to Play
This past Tuesday in Japan, Namco Bandai Games released Ace Combat Infinity for PS3, the first free-to-play title in its flight action series.

Having loved fighter jets and the Ace Combat series since I was a kid, and being eager to find out how the free-to-play model would work with Ace Combat Infinity I downloaded the game shortly after it was made available on the Japanese PSN Store.

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Ace Combat Infinity is part of Namco Bandai’s and other companies’ larger efforts to bring the free-to-play/microtransaction model to consoles after seeing how companies like GREE, DeNA, and GungHo Online Entertainment have experienced tremendous success. Free-to-play titles for smartphones, for example, incorporate microtransactions which give players the ability to acquire greater bonuses or quickly upgrade to more powerful weapons.

Budgeting for Virtual Jet Fuel
In the case of Ace Combat Infinity, players primarily pay for fuel, which gives them the ability to sortie in the solo campaign mode or to sortie with other players in online co-op missions.

There are also bonus packs available, such as the Unlimited Campaign Play Ticket, which for ¥2,000 (~$20) lets players fly in campaign mode without having to use fuel.

Ace Combat Infinity also incorporates challenges in which players can receive bonus items such as emblems, credits with which to buy planes and parts, fuel, etc. When playing, I found that by completing as many of these challenges as possible, I was able to advance pretty far without having to pay for fuel.

The campaign mode itself only has five missions at this time, but once I completed them, I was shown a preview movie with scenes and dialogue from additional missions which will likely be made available for players as time progresses.

Go Team
As for the online co-op missions, as their name implies, players don’t engage in combat with each, but rather, divide into two teams of four and try to rack up more kills than their opposing team. Random elements are thrown into every mission, so when you play one map you may face a certain enemy squadron, but if you play the same map again you may face an enemy submarine instead.

Go Play
Overall, I am finding Ace Combat Infinity to be a very good and very addicting game, and fear that the free-to-play/microtransaction model would ruin the series are unfounded.

Ace Combat Infinity will be taking off on PS3 in the US and Europe on May 28.

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Images: Namco Bandai

Contributor Reece Scott holds a B.A. in Japanese from Georgetown University, a Master’s in Modern Japanese Studies from the University of Oxford, and is currently a graduate student in Digital Hollywood University’s Digital Contents Management program here in Tokyo. He is passionate about otaku culture and trends, such as:

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