Ghost Recon Breakpoint releases to the wider public today, but it has been available for those who were willing to to buy the Ultimate, Gold or Collectors Editions since Tuesday this week. This is a great way for Ubisoft to show some love for those loyal to a franchise, but it also ended up exposing some of the more shady practices the publisher have employed when it comes to monetisation.
Ubisoft is known for being very liberal when it comes to adding microtransactions to to their games, which are mostly cosmetic, or content you can find through gameplay, but something a bit more controversial is the “Time-Savers” one can purchase in their games. This allows players to bypass the grind of a game in order to get the right gear, weapons and even level and skills in order to play the game, rather than earning it through gameplay. This was mostly reserved for its single-player games such as Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey, but it seems it has now made it’s way over to the online multiplayer side of things with Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
This caused a bit of an uproar on Reddit, as players felt it gives an unfair advantage, and creates a pay-to-win environment within the game. This option has now been removed, with Ubisoft stating via a Blog Post that the Time-Savers were not intended to be available just yet:
We are aware that during the Early Access of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint on October 1st, some Time-Savers items (Skill Point bundles, XP Boosters, parts bundles for advanced weapon upgrades) were available for purchase for a few hours in our Store but this was not our intention and was an error on our behalf. These items were designed as an optional way for players arriving later to the game (Post-Launch) to catch up with those who have been playing for longer and enjoy our co-op and challenging end-game experiences. These Time-Savers have since been removed from our Store for now. Time-Savers were not designed to grant any advantage over players choosing not to use them. Additionally, Ghost War PVP has been carefully balanced to ensure that no matter your experience as a player, no one has a critical advantage based on their progression.
So the intention is to give those joining the game later the opportunity to catch up, which is admirable, but it still doesn’t sit well with me. The fact that it was available for purchase, giving players who already have an edge for playing early an even bigger advantage and then removing the means to gain said advantage doesn’t seem fair in a game where everything is essentially online and a pissing contest when it comes to cosmetics, levels and gear.
Exactly how this will effect the overall experience for players and the trust the community has in Ubisoft still remains to be seen, but for now, things like this leave a bit of a bad taste in one’s mouth.