Pokemon Unite - How Microtransactions Work In The New PokeMOBA
Pokemon Unite is a MOBA take on the classic pocket monster franchise, and as you might expect from the genre, there's lots of currency types and cosmetics to spend it on.
Pokemon Unite has launched on Nintendo Switch, once again using the familiar pocket monster characters to explore a new genre. This time it's the MOBA, which has spawned a popular competitive esports scene for games like League of Legends and Dota 2. Pokemon Unite is a more accessible take on the genre, and as a F2P game it includes a large roster of characters to collect and plenty of cosmetics to keep you occupied. Here's how the various currencies work, and how much you can expect to unlock by paying in.
Earning Your First Pokemon Unite Licenses
Character unlocks in Pokemon Unite are handled by purchasing licenses, which then give you the option of taking that Pokemon into the arena from that point on. After some short introductory segments you'll get to choose your first Novice Pokemon license for free. These offer a decent variety between support like Eldegoss, defense like Snorlax, and different types of attackers like Pikachu, Charizard, and Talonflame.
After that you can claim a few others as bonuses. Zeraora is available for free as a launch bonus through August 31. Slowbro can be unlocked by completing some of the earliest challenges, and Venusaur is awarded by reaching character level 4. So after just an hour or two, you'll have access to your chosen starter, the ranged attacker Venusaur, the ranged defender Slowbro, and the melee speedster Zeraora. Licenses for Alolan Ninetales, Cinderace, and Greninja are all login bonuses in the "14-day Welcome Gifts" menu.
That should give you enough variety to try different character types and see which ones you prefer. That way you'll be able to make more informed purchasing decisions for other Pokemon. You can also try out any Pokemon, including ones that have not been purchased, in a Practice area to get a feel for their moves.
There are three main currency types in Pokemon Unite. The first is Coins, which you earn through regular play like battles and as event rewards. The second is Aeos Tickets, which are given out as ranked match season rewards as well as through events. The final one is Gems, the premium "real money" currency. Coins and gems are the most versatile and can be used for various types of unlocks, while tickets are restricted to a few particular types of cosmetics.
Currently, the gem pricing is as follows:
- $.99 - 60 gems* (
- $3.99 - 245 gems*
- $7.99 - 490 gems*
- $19.99 - 1,200 gems*
- $39.99 - 2,450 gems (plus 290 bonus)
- $49.99 - 3,050 gems (plus 450 bonus)
- $99.99 - 6,000 gems (plus 1100 bonus)
(* These bundles give a double gem bonus for your first purchase only. So the 99 cent bundle, for example, gives 120 gems instead of the usual 60 gems the first time you make a purchase.)
Collecting 'Em All
You can purchase more Pokemon licenses through the Unite Battle Committee. Those range in price from 6,000, 8,000, or 10,000 Coins, or 345, 460, or 575 Gems. The lower-tier pricing is for whichever Novice starter you didn't pick, while the upper end of the pricing tier is reserved for a few particular Pokemon like Gengar and Lucario, which are more often labeled as Expert-level Pokemon in terms of difficulty to play.
Finishing the tutorials (found in the Practice menu) plus some of the early challenge and event rewards will earn you enough Coins to purchase another license from the shop. After that, though, the free in-game cash may be more hard to come by. The game says that standard matches will only net you up to a max of 2,100 Coins per week. There are also daily challenges and events that will give you coins, but after clearing the easier starter challenges you may have to play for a few weeks to earn enough to unlock one new Pokemon license.
Unite Battle Committee (licenses):
- 6,000 coins / 345 gems
- 8,000 coins / 460 gems
- Alolan Ninetales
- Mr. Mime)
- 10,000 coins / 575 gems
Then, of course, there's the Gems route. With the first-time Gem bonus, $20 is enough to get you 4-5 new licenses, with some variation of more or less based on which pricing tier you favor. That's a relatively small percent of the 20 Pokemon available at launch--with more surely on the way. Remember, though, that like most MOBAs, Nintendo expects you to play long-term and invest in the ones that catch your interest, not necessarily unlock every single character.
Gems can also be used to purchase a battle pass once it unlocks at level 5, which is only purchasable with Gems and not with Coins. That comes in two tiers--490 Gems for the basic battle pass, and 945 Gems for the battle pass with an automatic 10-level skip. Those rewards are entirely cosmetic, earning you lots of trainer outfit parts and accessories as well as two costume variants for Pokemon: Hip-Hop Pikachu and Pirate Cinderace. Keep in mind those are only the "Holowear" costumes for those Pokemon, not the Pokemon licenses themselves. To actually use either one and see their flashy duds in-game, you'll need to purchase those licenses from the shop or unlock through welcome rewards as normal.
The other two sections of the shop focus on cosmetic gear. The Aeos Emporium offers a wide variety of cosmetics for your trainer, costing anywhere from 500-5,000 tickets for individual cosmetic parts or full gear sets. You can also pay up to around 500 Gems for the most expensive outfits.
Finally, Zirco Training has a variety of Pokemon cosmetics, costing from 350 to 1,200 Gems. Since the game is launching in mid-July, many of these are themed after summertime activities like scuba diving.
Both the Aeos Emporium and the Zirco Training shops also have ticket exchanges. These are a separate, specialized currency from the standard Aeos Tickets. Instead these are called Fashion Tickets and Holowear Tickets. They can be earned through a variety of means like completing missions, buying other cosmetic items, or completing bonus loot boxes after finishing the battle pass track.
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