Pokémon Unite

Developer/Publisher: Tencent Games Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Genre: Strategy
Release date: Wednesday 21st July 2021

Positive Community

This game encourages positive community interactions View more games with this feature

Free Content

The developers of this game continued to offer regular free-content updates to the entire playerbase, regardless of whether they had purchased a season pass or extra content for the game. This can include new game areas, characters, weapons, items, and/or an extended storyline View more games with this feature

Pay to Win

This game has gameplay-effecting items that can be acquired with money View more games with this feature

Loot Boxes With Duplicate Items

This game contains loot box randomised gambling mechanics where rewarded items can be duplicated. Developers typically flood the prize pool with low-tier undesirable items in order to reduce the chances of a player getting the high-tier items they want. The sole purpose of also allowing the items to be duplicates in loot boxes is to further frustrate and manipulate players into spending money. View more games with this feature

Includes Microtransactions

This game features an internal shop that allows users to spend money on items costing below $10 View more games with this feature

Season Pass with Purchasable Tiers

A form of video game monetization in which gamers purchase a discounted package of downloadable content that can be unlocked as they progress through the tiers by playing the game and completing challenges, or alternatively pay money in order to skip tiers and unlock rewards faster View more games with this feature

Purchasable Cosmetic Items

This game features an internal shop with optional cosmetic items than do not effect gameplay. These may include skins, shaders, aesthetic items such as pets or mounts View more games with this feature

First Time Purchase Sales

Tailored sales offering an initial discount that encourages users to make their first purchase within the game using money View more games with this feature

Online Multiplayer

This game features an online multiplayer mode in which more than one person can play in the same game environment at the same time, online over the internet View more games with this feature

Free to Play

This game is free to download and play. Be aware that the highest-tier rewards in free-to-play games often cost money via an in-game store. This is fine as long as the pricing of items is clear and transparent. If high-tier rewards are only obtainable via randomised gambling mechanics such as loot boxes in which rewards can be duplicated, then a single high-tier item can cost more than the price of a premium game View more games with this feature

Pokémon Unite, developed by Tencent Games, has given us a fresh take on the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre with brilliant core gameplay mechanics. The main issue with the game at launch is that it is Pay-To-Win, where players can choose to pay to enhance their items in order to give them an advantage over others. While these advantages may seem small, when they’re added together, they amount to a significant difference in a match.

This won’t be an issue in low-level games, however, anyone rising through the league in ranked matches will find themselves encountering more players with these advantages and will be encouraged to either pay to also upgrade themselves or not be able to compete at higher levels.

It costs roughly $40 to upgrade a single item to level 30 and with each player using three items, that equates to $120. At that point the game is no longer pay-to-win but is pay-to-compete, as all players will need $120 worth of upgraded items in order to merely compete on an even playing field with others in the highest league ranks.

This game is undeniably great fun to play, and could have been extremely successful with purchasable cosmetics alone, but the item enhancements are an insidious and manipulative mechanic that will unquestionably ruin the game in ranked matches. Tencent’s shortsighted greed has taken what could have been a respectable classic and instead turned it into a game that cannot be taken seriously at competitive levels.

With the system as it stands at launch, there will be a tier of ‘Master’ ranked players at the top who all pay for the item enhancements and other players with the same or potentially higher level of skill who are relegated to the lower ranks because they refuse to pay for the upgrades.

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