AC: Valhalla XP Boosts and the Plague of Single-Player Games
Here we are again. I feel like every three of six months we have this same conversation. If you play big-time single-player games from AAA studios, then today’s big news is no shock to you. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla XP boosts are officially on the market. An XP boost is a way to earn more experience points without needing to spend time grinding in the game. It’s obviously a huge help when you want to advance your character. Many people will take advantage of the boost, despite its real-life-money cost. Why? A lot of single-player games like Valhalla require a good time sink to get deep into the game. If you can bypass that, then some will take the bait. Others, like myself, hate to see it. Companies make millions off of these types of microtransactions but they’re terrible for gaming. Let’s dive further into the AC: Valhalla XP boosts.
The Justification for AC: Valhalla XP Boosts
Image via Ubisoft
Before we go too much further, we need to set up the scene. Ubisoft makes a killing in the video game industry. In FY2020, they took home $1.44 billion. What’s crazy about that figure is that the revenue earned in FY2020 is actually a dip in profits. Despite an overall drop in sales, one area of revenue is up 10%: microtransactions. According to Ubisoft’s official financial reports, 55% of all digital revenue for Ubisoft is microtransactions. Ubisoft classifies these as “Player Recurring Investments,” and they’re bringing in about $637 million a year for the company.
If you’re a major publisher, then you’re selling microtransactions. Why the hell wouldn’t you? That’s a good portion of your income and there’s no real limit to how much a single player can buy. For example, if you pick up AC: Valhalla XP boosts, then you still have other things you can buy as well. Anyone playing the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla early gameplay will probably at least think about picking up the boost. There’s a lot of content in the game and a bit of a boost might sound nice. People who buy these microtransactions are a small sliver of the problem. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but the industry is trending in a very anti-consumer way.
Single Player Games and Microtransactions
Image via Ubisoft
Many argue that some microtransactions are more acceptable than others. For example, I play a lot of Rocket League as my go-to multiplayer game. In that title, you have an option of microtransactions that offer cosmetic upgrades. For example, you can pay to have a cooler looking car. It doesn’t make your car better, or even cooler to all, but you get a say in your car’s style. Other games that I play a lot, like NBA 2K21, offer something different. In 2K, you can buy VC, or virtual currency, to literally upgrade your player. This pay-to-win model makes a lot of players upset, but guess what? Just like Ubisoft, publisher Take-Two makes a boatload of money from the system.
We can complain about microtransactions like this but they are here to stay. We saw a slight pushback for a while in the late 2010s against games with truly abhorrent microtransactions. The fact of the matter is that the model is making too much money to abandon. If publishers and developers offer these and consumers buy them, then the small sects of the internet complaining are easy to ignore. For awhile, single-player games seemed like the last refuge of an industry trending towards more and more in-game purchases. Major players like Ubisoft and EA are leading the charge simply because they make the money they do. What’s the best way to move forward?
Why the AC: Valhalla XP Boosts Feel…Icky
Players will build a settlement in England in “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.” (Ubisoft)
Many will argue that a great option is to boycott games that offer this sort of microtransactions system. Games like NBA 2K21 and GTAV offer them from the get-go. AC: Valhalla, on the other hand, didn’t include them until a month after the game released. At this point, many holiday purchases are finalized for Christmas. People who bought the game in the first few weeks of the release already put hours into the game. If you didn’t see it coming, then you simply weren’t looking. So, now what?
As mentioned, I play a lot of NBA 2K21, but I don’t spend extra cash in-game. I simply ignore that part of the game. Does it mean others are way better than me in multiplayer modes? Yes. I simply live with it; there’s not much else to do. If you find yourself seeing a benefit from these systems, then don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re evil for buying them. The system created this sort of monetary model because it’s what drives profit. We’re seeing the establishment of major capitalistic systems hit gaming in a big way. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry now, and it won’t stop here. We’ll see more and more manners of maximizing profit come to the industry. It’s not a matter of time; it’s already here.
If you’re truly ticked off or in support of AC: Valhalla XP boosts and similar systems, then let us know in the comments! Thanks for reading Comic Years for all things gaming, comics, and pop culture.
Featured Image Credit: Ubisoft
Taylor is the Gaming Editor of Comic Years and a lifelong fan of video games. He holds two degrees in Political Communication and wrote a Master's Thesis on resistance movements, race, and the exploitation of college athletes. His wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards keep him sane.
Leave a comment