Things have been heating up this week in regards to an XP Booster microtransaction that can be bought in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The Permanent XP Boost grants the player with an extra 50% experience boost for everything they do in AC Odyssey. This allows players to level up faster and unlock more abilities at an earlier stage. By all accounts, it makes Assassin’s Creed Odyssey more fun than when not spending $9.99 on a microtransaction.
Just about everyone is throwing their hat into the ring with this one, from Jim Sterling to Polygon and Game Informer. However, it’s not like any of this is actually new. Ubisoft has already been down this rabbit hole itself before, offering an XP booster for Ghost Recon Wildlands, and there are plenty of other publishers that have attempted the same trick. DICE has been getting away with selling weapon unlock packs and experience boosters in Battlefield for years, both operate on a similar principle. And that principle is time versus money.
For players, they must decide how much their time is worth. If your time rich and cash poor, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s 100-hour campaign and grindy side-content probably sound like a great deal. If you’re cash rich and time poor though, and you’ve only got 20-30 hours to spare to try and beat AC Odyssey, you’ve got the option to pay up 10 bucks and save some time.
In and of itself, this practice isn’t necessarily terrible. It is, but it doesn’t have to be. The way that Ubisoft has implemented its XP booster, it should definitely be a free game option or difficulty setting. It also opens up Ubisoft to immense criticism if it cocks it up, and cock it up surely has, based upon the reaction en masse.
Games are all about balance and craft. They’re the product of years of work from potentially thousands of people, and they ask a lot of players, both in terms of time and money. Both of these elements need to be respected if a game is to be positively received, and once a game starts being balanced around an XP booster, rather than the core experience itself, it invites criticism. Now, rather than just play the game, fans are going to have a niggle in the back of their head, reminding them that what they're currently doing is needless padding, potentially there to do nothing but tempt them into parting with another note.
For players, this leaves them in an awkward position in regards to AC Odyssey. They can either play a slower, grindier version of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, or they can stump up 10 bucks and support a legitimately exploitative business practice. There is potentially this is messing with the core experience in a negative manner, in a game that already costs $60. In a game that, from my early impressions, does a whole lot right, this definitely hits a sour note. The core of a game needs to work above all else, everything else, like cheat code unlocks and boosters, should just be a bonus.
What are your thoughts on this then, are you willing to throw over a few bucks in order to finish a game quicker? Is the AC Odyssey XP booster just a nice little extra for those with the cash to buy it, or does it upset the balance of the game? Get voting and let us know why below!