The fault with Asphalt

About eighteen months ago, I talked briefly of my obsession with Asphalt 8 on the Apple TV, a game that combined third party controllers with Apple TV accessibility to make a brilliant and captivating racing game.

For a few months, this game was everything – I wanted to get all the stars for all the events in all the seasons, I wanted to upgrade all the cars and collect as many as possible, and essentially do all the things. My obsession lessened as other entertainments distracted me, but it was always there in the back of my mind – Asphalt 8 is brilliant, don’t forget to go back and play!

Well, I’ve been checking in every now and again and after looking at it last week, I’ve got to say, the obsession is over. I was tempted back into the game by their recent Porsche update, allowing you to have a go at racing Porsche cars where they have previously been missing from the garage lineup. Great fun.

Except, it’s almost impossible to find a car and then a track to race it. It used to be that you chose from a handful of different events to race and gain money to buy better cars. The better cars help you race better, win more, gain more money, buy better cars, and the cycle continues. It’s a system that has worked for most racing games since the dawn of time. (Or since the dawn of the Playstation, anyway).

In the intervening months since I have had a proper play in Asphalt 8, they have added so many bolt on elements of the game, it is totally unfathomable.

There are multiplayer races, event races, research and development races, several layers before you get to those bog standard season races. You can buy a car, you can collect cards to develop a car, you can purchase tokens to get a car. You can upgrade certain elements with cash, you can collect other cards to upgrade extra pieces. You can earn cards, or you can buy boxes that contain cards. There are daily tasks to complete, limited time events to run, and probably a lot more that I have skipped through in my haste to get back to something simple.

It’s not just that there are too many things to do now, it’s that every time you try and do something you’re bombarded by pop up screens giving you cards, tempting you to buy things, advertising new events. Just leave me alone and let me get on with a race!

It’s a disappointing state of affairs, but I can understand how it’s happened. The current state of gaming ensures the number one task is to keep people coming back to your game. Whether that is by making certain actions take time to complete, or by stringing together daily rewards, or by adding more and more functionality to keep users interested.

Asphalt has obviously gone the latter route, but there surely has to be a balance. The game is now so overwhelming, I just don’t want to play. Why couldn’t the new updates been more tracks, more cars, and above all better stability?

I’m old, I know, and this is perhaps the way games are going to be from now on. But if so, it is 100% not for me.