Despite Assurances From The Devs, Pokemon Unite License Inflation Is Still A Problem

It’s getting more and more expensive each passing month to be a Pokemon Unite player. Though we were told it wouldn’t necessarily be the case, the last three Unite Licenses each cost 14,000 coins, up from 12,000 for the previous two, which was up from the 10,000 standard set late last year. Despite assurances from the devs, prices have continued to climb, and there’s nothing to suggest they won’t continue to climb further.

To make matters worse, the last two Pokemon could only be obtained with premium currency for the first week after launch. While we’ve seen new releases locked behind quests and time gates in the past, Dodrio was the first Unite license that could only be purchased with gems. Scizor worked the same way, and as far as we know all Unite Licenses will have this early access model from now on.

The only reason it hasn’t turned into a full blown crisis is because neither Dodrio nor Scizor are particularly overpowered. Often when new Pokemon are released, they come out in such a broken state that any team not running it would be at a disadvantage. That hasn’t been the case with the last two, but as soon as a Tyranitar or Dragonite level Pokemon comes out, the pay-to-win alarms are going to start firing off in a big way.

At the time when Tyrantar was released in August, it was the most expensive Unite License ever. In an interview at the Pokemon World Championships, producer Masaaki Hishino told me that Tyranitar was a special circumstance and that we shouldn’t be worried about the price of Unite Licenses continuing to increase. ““Tyranitar just happens to be – out of various considerations – slightly higher priced than other licenses,” he explained. “But it's not necessarily going to always increase from here. This is very specifically a Tyranitar situation.” Unfortunately, we now know that this was very specifically not a Tyranitar situation.

This isn’t to call out Hishino or accuse him of lying. Things change in game development, and it's entirely possible these decisions were made after the interview, or even that Hoshino wasn’t consulted at all. We don’t know how or why these decisions get made, but that’s the crux of the issue. Communication between the developers and the community is practically non-existent. These changes feel profit-driven and greedy, and without any insights or explanations from the developers, it's only natural for players to assume the worst.

When Scizor becomes available for gold next week, it will be the third Pokemon to cost 14,000. When the developers decided Tyranitar was not going to be a special situation after all, that should have been communicated to the players. Moreover, the gem-only release model should not have been sprung on players as a surprise. Dodorio was advertised to release on a certain day but no one knew it could only be obtained for real money until that day came. The rising cost of Unite Licenses is a frustration, but it’s not an entirely unique situation – just ask Hearthstone players, or Netflix subscribers, for that matter. A lot of the frustration the community is feeling could be managed better if the developers would just talk to us and let us know why they’re doing the things they’re doing.

Transparency is a tricky thing in game development, and there are plenty of examples of it leading to harassment – something the Destiny 2 developers are currently experiencing. That’s inexcusable, and to some extent, I can understand why studios want to keep their distance from the community. But when we’re being asked to spend more money without any more value – especially when there are so many unresolved issues in the game – it’s reasonable to expect some kind of statement. The wall of silence from the Unite developers is only exacerbating the negative feelings at this point. The time to open the lines of communication is long overdue.

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