Assassin’s Creed and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. I really enjoy running around on rooftops and stabbing people in the neck for no reason, but I can’t stand all the stuff that Assassin’s Creed keeps tacking onto itself. With each new installment we seem to get further and further away from the stabbing and more and more distracted by boring, monotonous, gameplay lengthening drudgery. Assassin’s Creed Unity has given us a way out of the boredom – for a price.
AC Unity has introduced micro-transactions as a way to skip all the grinding. Instead of spending hours upon hours earning in-game currency with which to buy new armor and weapons, you can spend real world currency to buy what you want right now. That might sound like a good thing on the surface, after all it does make the game less boring, but if you stop to think about that for a second you’ll realize that this is actually the worst thing this franchise has ever done.
Why on Earth should you have to pay to make a game less boring? AC Unity is a $60 AAA blockbuster game. You just paid $60 to play the game and have fun. But the game isn’t designed for you to have fun – not entirely at least. It’s designed to be boring. It presents you with all the best armor and weapons in the game right up front, but it hides them behind inflated price tags. Sure, if you’re willing to grind for hours you can earn 140,000 in-game currency to buy that Legendary Breastplate, but why not just cough up $10 of real money and get it now? Why not cough up another $60 and just buy a full set of Legendary Armor and Weapons? Skip all those boring hours?
This is the most two-faced piece of game design I have ever seen. Ubisoft has created a game where we must pay $60 up front for the privilege of playing it, then pay even more money later for the privilege of not playing it. Since when did micro-transactions go from pay-to-play, to pay-to-not-play?! Have we really reached the point where studios are so money hungry that they would purposefully design a game to be boring just so people will pay them to play less of it? Thanks to Ubisoft, we have.
The only solace we have is that these micro-transactions remain, thankfully, optional. If you’ve got the patience (or if you’re an AC veteran like me who knows how to exploit the in-game economy) you can grind out enough in-game money to buy everything and never spend an extra cent of real currency. The micro-transactions aren’t a barrier to the fun; they’re an express lane to it. Cough up some money and you’ll get to the fun part sooner. It could have been much worse. They could have made the micro-transactions mandatory. I don’t think even Ubisoft is that evil.
You’re not that evil, right Ubisoft?