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Is Pokémon Unite Really Free-To-Play | Screen Rant

The upcoming Pokémon MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game, Pokémon Unite, is set to release on July 21 for the Nintendo Switch, with a mobile release coming out later in September 2021. Seeing as so many comparisons have already been drawn between Pokémon Unite and other popular games in the MOBA genre, such as League of Legends or Dota 2, some fans are likewise wondering if Pokémon Unite will be similarly free-to-play.

Pokémon Unite was first revealed in 2020, and since then has seen the release of various beta footage and other trailers. The game will be leaving beta for the first time this July, releasing first for the Nintendo Switch and later for mobile devices, at which point cross-platform play will be supported. For the most part, Pokémon Unite will revolve around standard MOBA gameplay - players battle in a 5v5 arena, take on challenges, and collect customization options while strengthening and evolving their team.

Related: Pokémon UNITE's First Character Skins Are Absurd & Wonderful

There was some criticism from Pokémon fans when Pokémon Unite was first announced, many of whom were disappointed by the MOBA announcement due to instead anticipating news of the long-awaited Sinnoh remakes. Others criticized the inclusion of microtransactions, especially given the monetization-heavy history of Pokémon Unite's development partner Tencent. Some fans simply disliked the spin-off's gameplay direction. Although Pokémon Unite does break the traditional MOBA mold in many ways, including being more geared toward beginners and placing emphasis on unique mechanics of the broader Pokémon franchise, it's still a far cry from the series' usual gameplay.

Given the nature of Pokémon Unite's other MOBA elements, fans of the franchise began questioning early on whether the game would be entirely free-to-play or not. Pokémon Unite has frequently been described as free-to-start. The initial purchase of the game is free, as is the case with most other popular MOBA titles, but beyond that is heavily monetized. Pokémon Unite's Battle Pass, which allows players to collect additional items while playing, must be purchased. Premium in-game currency can also be bought and used to unlock new playable Pokémon or held items and customization options.

It's worth noting, however, that spending money isn't required to play or enjoy Pokémon Unite. Gems, which as of the beta release of the game seem to serve as its premium currency, can be collected through normal gameplay. That said, they appear much more infrequently than other currencies in Pokémon Unite, and like most other rare items in the game can be bought with real money. The exact exchange rate of each item isn't clear just yet, as the game is only available to pre-download ahead of the July 21 release, but will likely be comparable to that of other mobile Pokémon titles such as Pokémon GO that feature microtransactions, especially given Pokémon Unite's upcoming mobile release.

Next: How Pokémon UNITE Breaks the MOBA Mold

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