How much Pay-to-Win is in Pokémon UNITE?
Pokémon UNITE is not that old yet, but many players have already criticized the monetization in the game. Claims of Pay-to-Win make their rounds. But how much of an advantage do whaling players actually have?
Pay-to-Win has always been the bane of esports. After all the idea that money instead of skill becomes the deciding factor runs against everything competitive gaming stands for. So with Pokémon UNITE having an in-game shop we naturally need to take a closer look at the advantages you can buy in the Pokémon MOBA.
Why is Pokémon UNITE a Pay-to-Win game?
Just as in the regular series the Pokémon in UNITE can carry items with them. These Held Items will improve certain attributes such as HP or movement speed.
Items can be upgraded up to level 30 and along the way their effects double and make the Pokémon equipped with them significantly stronger. To upgrade those items you need to use Item Enhancers, which you either gain through playing or by spending money.
How to get Item Enhancers?
You get Item Enhancers through playing and gaining experience for your trainer and leveling your Battle Pass. Another way to obtain them is through the Energy Rewards.
All battles, be it ranked, runranked or quick matches reward you with Aeos Energy. For every 100 energy you collect you gain rewards. However each week there is a limit on the energy, which you can see on the left side of the image.
While the rewards you get are random, the probabilities are displayed in-game:
There are 35 different rewards, but the important one of note are the Item Enhancers here with a chance of 20%.
Energy Boost Tanks are Pay-to-Win
As you can see the much-needed Item Enhancers can be gained at a decent chance in those Energy Rewards. The way to get past the weekly limit however turns UNITE into a Pay-To-Win game as it is purchased through money. There is also the boost to your Energy generation, which increases the speed at which paying players level their items even more.
The tanks can be bought by spending 200 Aeos Gems, which is not as little as it sounds like.
50 Aeos Gems cost you roughly an Euro and that makes it a lot less appealing for players with tight budgets.
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Conclusively said, items and their upgrades are quite the big advantage for players in comparison to those without. Coupled with the fact that level 30 items are basically impossible to obtain outside of spending money makes UNITE a bit of a mixed experience for free players. While you can outplay and compete against many others on roughly even ground, money-fueled Held Items will give those players a significant advantage over others.
Here is hoping that the developers reconsider and balance the Items and their Enhancers a bit more.