More microtransaction controversy abounds, as Paladins, the popular Overwatch-alternative, has now found itself in the crosshairs of players in the wake of a new patch announcement that could spell trouble for the title’s free-to-play pedigree.
What is the new Paladins patch all about?
If you want to perform well in Paladins, you need to have two things: skill, and the right character cards. Currently, these cards are either crafted by players with Essence, earned through gameplay, or unlocked through in-game chests. These cards are the equipped to certain characters, which boosts their stats and adjusts their role in the game—to a degree.
Perfectly reasonable under a free-to-play model, the chests can be purchased with real money as well. Open a chest, you might get a card. If you get a duplicate, it automatically adjusts to Essence, allowing players to craft the cards they actually want.
However, this is all due to change after the implementation of the sexily-named OB64.
The higher the rank, to more effective the card, and by extension, the more powerful the character you attach it to.
Under the new system, named “Cards Unbound”, players will get access to every card from the very beginning of the game. Noobs and pros will no longer have to unlock cards through crafting or unlocks. However, these cards will need to be levelled up by collecting duplicates of those cards. The higher the rank, to more effective the card, and by extension, the more powerful the character you attach it to.
In other words, you can either get better raw stats for a character either by grinding in the game, or by spending real money to get more powerful, faster. Those with cash to burn will, theoretically, be able to outperform more skilled players just by having higher-ranked cards.
As you can imagine, players aren’t too pleased with this new direction for the game. Many players are reading this as an attempt by the developers to introduce a pay-to-win system. Here are just a couple of the articulate reactions from the official forums:
“Fuck this bullshit!”
“Congratulations Hi Rez, you just killed Paladins”
“Does anyone else think it’s funny how they are legit screwing with their pro players’ livelihood? Jesus.”
Popular Paladins YouTuber KamiVS has even posted an entire video criticising the newly-introduced grinding aspect, revealing that it would take 43 duplicates of the same card to upgrade a common card to the maximum level. Considering there are 271 of these common cards in the game, this quickly becomes a very obvious grind to max level.
It probably doesn’t help that player are still feeling particularly tender regarding microtransactions and lootboxes in the wake of the Battlefront II lootbox controversy. Yes, I know you’re tired of hearing about it, but I’ll stop talking about Battlefront II when it stops being relevant!
On the other hand…
Not every reaction has been so venomous, however. Some players have lauded the patch, saying that the non-card-based adjustment are some of the most significant in the history of the game. Some have even said that the card system isn’t all that much of a problem, but rather it is the grinding aspect that needs to be adjusted to ensure that there is a more even battlefield between players with lower cards and those with higher.
Moreover, the new system will only be used in Quick Play mode, meaning that casual players will not be affected. Characters in Competitive mode will have their cards set to Tier III (out of a possible V), evening out the chance for drastic inequality in character stats.
Will the developers of Paladins retract this new system? After all, it’s in the Open Beta for a reason—or will they stick to their guns and ride through the community backlash?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!