Assassin's Creed: Syndicate's release date is fast approaching and Ubisoft is releasing more and more information about the game, including that the AAA title will have a microtransaction cash shop to help speed up progress for those who don't have time to play.
Gamespot caught wind from Assassin's Creed: Syndicate development director from Ubisoft Quebec, Francois Pelland, who mentioned to IGN that the microtransactions are completely optional and are designed for those who don't have time to play the game, saying...
Assassin's Creed Syndicate will include paid options to save time and accelerate progress, […] The model for Assassin's Creed Syndicate is quite similar to Black Flag, allowing players who do not have time to fully explore our huge game world to still be able to eventually acquire the game’s most powerful gear as well as other items. Rest assured, all of AC Syndicate's content is available without paying anything additional and the game has been balanced such that microtransactions are 100% optional.
I believe it was Jim Sterling he once brought out how microtransactions offer players the option to pay to not play. You've essentially just paid $60 for a game and then pay – according to the Gamespot piece – just under $2 to not have to play the game but speed through it and access content as quickly as possible. It's interesting that the service of skipping through content in a $60 AAA game costs money.
It's a strange dynamic because video games are supposed to be entertainment, oftentimes a form of challenging entertainment that may require critical thinking, fast reflexes or an exercise in comprehension skills. Yet we have games like Assassin's Creed: Syndicate where $60 doesn't just net you a lengthy experience but apparently it's an experience so lengthy that if you don't actually want to play the game you can pay Ubisoft to skip through it.
I find the idea of paying for unlocking content quickly as a bizarre thing. Back in the day we called them “cheat codes” and players who wanted to goof around or get past a level that was too difficult would use said cheats to speed through the game. There were also GameShark devices where you could modify memory addresses to access debug-style cheats as well, but despite costing like $40 or $50, they applied to just about every game out there.
These days, nearly each AAA game has its own cash shop and includes everything from new maps, clothes and cosmetics, to extra health, armor or weapons. What's worse yet is that paying to not play is apparently popular enough that companies like Ubisoft, Rockstar and EA are able to clean up on people who would rather speed through games they feel are too grindy to actually enjoy them.
Again, it's very bizarre. Paying to not play.
Nevertheless, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is a game that many feel will be a make it or break it moment for Ubisoft. It determines whether or not long-time fans will keep with the series or jump ship if the game releases broke like Assassin's Creed: Unity.
You can expect to get your hands on Assassin's Creed: Syndicate for the PS4 and Xbox One on October 23rd, while the PC version will be made available on November 19th.