Pokémon Unite includes weekly challenges with specific requirements and rewards as part of player engagement, but this week’s challenge, themed around Garchomp, has some players frustrated. The MOBA takes many cues from previous titles in the genre and includes a free rotation of characters for players to try out each week, as well as microtransactions. Though playing Pokémon Unite for free is possible, player revenue is how the game funds future development, so it is inextricably linked to the genre.
More and more games are shifting to the “games as service” model, which involves providing a steady stream of updates and content in exchange for putting parts of the game—usually character skins or DLC—behind paywalls.
Pokémon Unite is no exception, as it is a game designed to be played over time and includes microtransactions to enhance the player experience. Microtransactions, on the other hand, must tread carefully.
When it comes to cosmetic items, most players will accept them, but there has been a lot of backlash when it comes to microtransactions that affect gameplay. Pokémon Unite has dealt with this before, with a survey conducted a few months ago acknowledging “pay-to-win” accusations. Players want to believe that everyone has a fair shot, and when those with money have an advantage, it is often viewed as the polar opposite of fair.
Pokémon Unite released another week of challenges a few days ago, and Reddit user PumpkinKing333 and others are dissatisfied with the requirement that they use Garchomp. The problem is that Garchomp isn’t one of the characters featured in the game’s free rotation this week, so if players don’t already own the character, they’ll have to pay in-game currency or real money to get it and complete the challenge.
Acquiring currency in the game takes time, so if players are short of the 10,000 coins required to unlock Garchomp (or simply do not want to spend their coins on it), they will either have to pay money or will be unable to complete the challenges.
That would be fine if the game kept its prices low, but with the recent Pokémon Unite Alolan Ninetales holowear costing $40, it’s clear that’s not the case. It puts players in an unfavorable position, and they are understandably frustrated as a result.
But that isn’t the only problem. Many people have drawn attention to another challenge in that same Reddit thread, which requires players to participate in 8 ranked matches with friends. Some Pokémon Unite players appear to be lone wolves, lacking enough friends who play the game to complete that particular challenge.
With that and the Garchomp challenge, players may be unable to complete two of this week’s four missions, leaving half of the week’s rewards out of reach. One solution may be Pokémon Unite squads, which are relatively easy to join and connect up to thirty players who can then play together, but few options exist for those not in squads.
It’s understandable that a free-to-play game like Pokémon Unite would try to find a variety of ways to fund its ongoing development. Still, players will only accept so many microtransactions before they feel nickel-and-dimed. Pokémon Unite has already been accused of being a pay-to-win game, and missions like this, which almost require money to be spent, don’t help.