Gamescom 2013: “It’s Not Pay to Win.” Ryse’s Microtransactions Explained in Detail

One of the big news from Gamescom is that Crytek’s Xbox One exclusive Ryse: Son of Rome will have microtransactions. I just walked out from a lengthy behind closed doors presentation of the game, and I was lucky enough to pick one that wasn’t crowded, with just me and Brian Crecente from Polygon ( so you’ll probably going to hear his side of the story soon as well) given the chance to bombard both the CryTek and the Microsoft side of the team with questions on the dreaded monetization of the game.

The details we got are definitely interesting, and whether you’re for or against microtransactions, they’ll probably help you get a clearer picture of how it’s all going to work.

First of all the folks at Microsoft were very quick to specify that Ryse is not a “pay to win” game. ¬†There will be two methods of progression, through gold, that allows to purchase equipment and with experience.

Experience is in place to “gate” the ability of players to pay to win. Basically you can use real currency to purchase booster packs (that are also available with in-game money, that unfortunately won’t be called “Sesterzi” for the Roman purists between us, as the team intends to go with something more accessible). That said, even if you purchase all the gold booster packs your monthly wage allows, and each kind of pack has a guaranteed number of rare items in them (gold packs will have three), you won’t be able to buy high tier items until you gain enough experience to reach that tier.

This enforces the necessity of actually playing the game in order to wear the most powerful items, whatever currency you buy them with.

And this mechanism is actually quite needed: while balance is not finalized yet, the team is shooting for a roughly 2 to 1 difference in power between a player fully decked out in top tier rare armor and a new player wearing just his starting rags.

Of course this may not be relevant for many, as the multiplayer coliseum of the game is mostly cooperative. Players aren’t given the option to kill or harm each other, so meeting a decked out player will mostly help you, even if he will most probably beat you in the score-based competitive aspect.

The only category of items that won’t be available through in-game currency is entirely cosmetic, and will simply allow players to look more unique in the multiplayer coliseum. If you want to look sharp (or at least sharper than those that don’t pay), you’ll have to reach for your real world wallet.

Another mitigating element for microtransactions is that players will carry the executions unlocked in single player into multiplayer, allowing them to walk the sands of the arena for the first time with a certain advantage if they played through the single player.

Microsoft was really cautious about adding this feature, but in the end they decided in favor of doing it in a way that is “very optional” and not required at all in order to progress and enjoy the game (at least according to them). It’s a way to trade real world money for gameplay time, but still gated through the experience system, but again they were very explicit in explaining that if you completely ignore the microtransactions system you’ll still be able to fully enjoy every aspect of the game.

To use their own explanation:

The Way it’s designed is, you progress in tiers through the gear. When you start off you can only buy tier 1. As you play the game and earn experience you’ll be able to buy tier 2 gear. The way we balanced the timing, you’ll probably reach tier 3 before you bought all the tier 2 [Items]. Some completionists are going to buy more tier 2 items to have them all.

The whole idea of the microtransactions is really to add convenience for the player. It’s not about trying to give anybody a bigger shot at winning. It’s all about giving somebody who would rather trade a couple of bucks for a couple of hours the option to do that.

Single player challenges that work pretty much like challenges in Forza Horizon (IE: trying to do better at certain elements than one of your friends) will also allow you to earn in-game gold that can be used to buy items in multiplayer.

These are the cold hard facts. Now you have all the available elements to make your own mind on the issue.

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