XDefiant devs make huge ‘pay-to-win’ promise, but fans are skeptical

Pay-to-win mechanics in video games are a huge topic of debate, so it was refreshing to hear Ubisoft promise its latest free-to-play tactical shooter, XDefiant, won’t be pay-to-win. But despite the developer’s assurance, players aren’t convinced—and for good reason.

On May 17, Ubisoft published a blog post about XDefiant’s monetization system, but commenters argued the post is merely a cleverly-worded “meaningless” promise that masks reality. For example, while Ubisoft’s post says there aren’t any pay-to-win mechanics, it also says: “Any gameplay impacting content that is purchasable is also unlockable through challenges to ensure fair play amongst our community.” 

Screenshot of the cover art for XDefiant
Cosmetics are great, but purchasable functional content? Image via Ubisoft

So, you can still purchase functional content that will give you a competitive advantage over others. Yes, you can grind to get the content, but needless to say, it’s not going to be a short grind to get 700,000 XP for the DedSec faction. 

“Meaningless statement,” a player wrote about Ubisoft’s blog post in a Reddit thread. “In all garbage p2w mobile games you can technically grind for years, decades, to unlock everything.” 

“It’s bullshit to claim “no pay to win” and then have functional content you can buy. Bypassing grind walls by paying is pay to win,” another commenter said.

Many players pointed out how games like Battlefield, Rainbow Six Siege, and Teamfight Tactics have been “doing this for years,” where the developers sell the “no pay-to-win” promise by adding gameplay-altering content that’s purchasable, but also unlockable for free. 

As long as you can pay to get a competitive advantage in XDefiant, it doesn’t matter that you can grind to unlock it for free. It certainly sounds like XDefiant is going to be pay-to-win.

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