Ever since Marvel’s Avengers was revealed to be an endless online game, a la Destiny, prospective players have wondered about potential microtransactions, and just how bad they are. To just be out with it: Yes, there are microtransactions in Marvel’s Avengers. No, you can’t pay your way to a superpowered character (or, well, a more superpowered character).
All of the skills in the game are earned the old-fashioned way: by punching enemies into oblivion, earning experience points, and customizing a skill tree as you see fit. Stat-altering gear—everything from Iron Man’s repulsors to Ms. Marvel’s insignia—is also earned fairly. You can find it in chests, by defeating enemies, or by spending in-game currency at in-game vendors. And no, you can’t spend real-world money to earn more of that in-game currency.
Microtransactions in Marvel’s Avengers are purely for cosmetic options: outfits, emotes, and nameplates. As with many loot-based games, these are color-coded by quality, from common (white) and uncommon (green) up and through to extremely rare exotic (orange) gear. Legendary (yellow) outfits are currently the highest tier available in the shop, and cost 1,400 credits, while legendary emotes will run you 1,000.
As for how much this costs in cold, hard cash, the pricing more or less breaks down to a penny per credit. But, like refilling a MetroCard at a New York City Transit kiosk, you can earn more by spending more. Buying the Super Credits Package ($20 for 2,000 credits) will net you a “bonus” 200 credits. The Mighty Credits Package ($50 for 5,000 credits) gives you another 1,000. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line Ultimate Credits Package ($100 for 10,000 credits) includes an extra 3,000. The basic pack ($5 for 500 credits) offers no such incentive.
If you’re triple-checking the math in your head, stunned at the prices, you were probably right at first blush. It breaks down to about $10 for a legendary emote or $15 for a legendary outfit. What kind of emote is worth that much? One of Ms. Marvel’s has her slurp from a seemingly 64-ounce soda cup. Thor, meanwhile, can pull a tennis ball out of an astonishingly deep pants pocket and bounce it off Mjolnir like a tennis racket.
You can also earn credits by progressing through each character’s challenge card, which is basically the Avengers version of a battle pass. Each challenge card has 40 levels. Every time you level up, you’ll earn a prize. Usually, it’s something cosmetic—an outfit or an emote—but sometimes you’ll nab a tiny trove of sweet, sweet, credits. Reaching the third level of Iron Man’s challenge card, for instance, grants you 100 credits. The 11th level grants you 200. Fully completing the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist’s challenge card will earn you a grand total of 1,300 credits—just shy of what you’d need to buy a shiny new legendary outfit.
You level-up challenge cards by playing the game and completing daily or weekly challenges to earn challenge points. These challenges are specific to each character, and are of the “kill 15 enemies with Power Attacks” or “rescue 20 hostages” nature. So far, they seem like the type of tasks you’d naturally complete just by playing the game, but you can speed the process up by spending credits. If I wanted to skip from level 2 (my current Iron Man challenge card level) to level 11, that would cost me 820 credits. Hey, at least it’d also unlock all the levels and prizes in between, including that total haul of 300 credits.
Filling up a challenge card naturally, without aid from credits, is no small time commitment. Daily quests, of which there are two per day, earn you three points each. The two weekly quests give you 11 a piece. Even if you knock out every single challenge, you max out at 64 points per week. Since you need 200 points to reach level 40, you could very well spend the better part of September hitting that peak—and that’s just for one character. Imagine how much a time sink it’d be to reach level 40 for all six. Though it’s not necessary to spend credits on advancing through a challenge card, the temptation, however minimal, is there.
At the moment, the game’s microtransactions are relatively non-invasive, especially when you consider that you can unlock a ton of cosmetic options just by playing the game. Of course, these things start out innocuous enough, but often morph into miniature cottage industries that corral you into spending money by making you feel like you’re missing out on half the game. Marvel’s Avengers is barely out—in fact, it won’t fully release to everyone until Friday—so it’s far too early to pass judgement. It’ll be curious to see how the system evolves over the coming weeks and months.