No One Can Agree On Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Microtransactions | Gaming News
The perfect source for gaming uptodate news
Some feel burned by real-money “time saver” microtransactions in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey despite the fact they’re entirely optional.
In the days and weeks following the release of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, an uproar over the game’s inclusion of time-saving microtransactions touched a nerve with the community. Do they cross the line from harmless enhancers to practically necessary against Odyssey’s difficulty spikes? The overall conclusion has people torn.
You don’t have to look further than the Assassin’s Creed subreddit to find divisiveness over the game’s real-money timer savers that generally boils down to one of two opinions. Essentially, some people feel Ubisoft has intentionally designed a pacing system that demands those purchases, while others consider the open-world, exploratory nature of an RPG one that necessitates spending time in that world for progression regardless.
The Internet’s Divide
One reddit user summed up their frustration saying, “The microtransactions in this game are horrid. The fact that Ubisoft is selling editions of Odyssey that have prices of more than $100 and still include microtransactions is distasteful, greedy and toxic to the RPG system. They made a grindy game so they could sell you boosters.”
While yet another Reddit user argues that they’re not a problem at all, stating, “I cant understand people calling this game a grind. Further more the people saying Ubisoft is abusing the grind and makes you buy the time saver packs … is so delusional. If you do like one or two side quests and discover the region a bit between each story [mission], you will be fine. I can see why [people] who just rush the main story has a problem with levels but honestly if you want to just rush the main story, this game isn’t made for you.”
There’s a bit of knee jerk reaction these days when it comes to microtransactions — understandably so. We’ve seen a slow shift toward microtransactions as an industry standard, and some really powerful examples of how paid elements in games can all go terribly wrong. But, at the very least, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t align with any one of those examples.
Progression Through 60 Hours
I filed Tech’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review after playing just over 60 hours in around a week and I was surprised by the initial negative reaction. While pushing through the massive world as fast as possible to offer an informed review at a tight embargo, I never felt like I needed to rely on those boosters to get through the main quest line that much faster.
Because of the conclusions some have drawn from the well-documented and sometimes gross instances of microtransaction use and their effects on the industry in the past, I wanted to add my specific thoughts on progressing through Assassin’s Creed Odyssey during that review process.
Yes, I certainly hit a main-story level peak during my review process, and needed to play in the open-world for another level or two before dipping back into the critical path. But that’s not a design problem to me, that’s the nature of an open-world RPG. When the game world you’re playing in is as big and dense as Ubisoft’s Ancient Greece, mainlining the main story arc and ignoring everything else ensures you won’t get a large percentage of the rest of the experience.
Though you can skip all these moments, that doesn’t mean you need to spend $10 on a booster to make the game playable.
That Odyssey “grind” isn’t doing laps in a pixelated forest waiting for random monsters to attack over and over like it was back in the early days of RPGs. “Grinding” in Odyssey is dipping into a dozen different activities that are supplemental to the main story, including side missions that are rarely annoying and often different enough in tone to be considered great narrative additions. You can choose to completely skip hunting the great beasts of legend — but that’d be a bummer because those fights are amazing. You can ignore a little girl’s plea to help her craft jewelry for her friends, and for you. You can shrug at the needs of an elderly couple when it comes to the bedroom, and move on with your life. But that’s not a problem with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. That memorable content is there, and though you can skip all these moments, that doesn’t mean you need to spend $10 on a booster to make the game playable.
If someone spends their hard-earned money on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the option to spend even more money to skip all content isn’t on anyone but those who choose to do it.
But over and over I’ve been hearing that Ubisoft designed the game, and therefore designed the grind, and therefore are intentionally pushing players toward spending that money. So I reached to Ubisoft to clarify some of the assumptions about the team’s design practices and the reasoning behind its design decisions.
In order to present Ubisoft’s response without worrying about affecting the context, I’ve posted the responses from a Ubisoft representative below in their entirety. There you’ll find the philosophies that guided the design team alongside the team’s thoughts on the microtransactions and their relationship to the game.
Designing for Different Players
We designed our game and its progression in line with our creative vision of Odyssey being a full-on open-world RPG, that offers a lot of content to its players. From the very start our expectations were that players would engage in main quests but also in regional and Character quests, which we strived to make as deep and memorable as the Odyssey quests.
We playtested our progression all throughout the development process and are very happy with where it stands now. Since our audience is so widely varied each player has their own way of approaching the content, and we tried to account for both the player who wants to focus more on the Odyssey “main story” as well as on the player who wants to do 100% of the content in the game. We are happy with the balance we’ve achieved for both of those players.
Why Time Savers?
Time savers such as the XP booster exist to save time and accelerate progress, allowing players who lack the time to fully explore the huge world of Ancient Greece to still be able to eventually acquire the game’s best gear, as well as other items. They do not bypass any playable content in the game and are not part of the intended natural experience. If you take the Hidden Secrets maps for example – we feel the best experience of that gameplay is to explore the world, spend time searching, do the riddles and puzzles, etc. – but some players would prefer to bypass that gameplay and just go straight to the secret. This is not the intended experience – but some players prefer this, and so instead of having them go to the internet to find a video or image of these locations, we make it possible to have a map to add comfort and save time. As for the XP booster, those maps are really just options for players and are not taken into account when designing the global progression in the game.
Our game was designed as a true RPG that offers a lot of content to its players to take them on a memorable Odyssey. We’ve extensively playtested the game and its progression over the course of its development, without players having access to any store items or time-savers. The way it is balanced reflects the experience we aimed to create. Players who feel under-leveled for their next main story mission have many ways to efficiently gather XP and level-up, such as playing World and Character quests, engaging in Conquest Battles, completing Bounties and Contracts, fighting in the Arena, or completing POIs. All of this content scales its rewards based on the player’s level, to make sure it’s always a relevant reward. There are also other Odyssey narrative arcs that open later in the game to give players several options and quests to continue their adventure.
The different difficulty settings don’t impact the amount of XP gained, nor do they factor in for any other resource. Player damage, enemy damage, and challenge of certain gameplay elements are the things that change with difficulty settings. We also change enemy level scaling to allow the player to over-level the enemies more in lower difficulty levels.