Pokemon Unite is pay-to-win, but can players get around it?

By Steven Rondina


Jul 25, 2021

Reading time: 3 min

Newly released MOBA title Pokemon Unite is taking the world by storm but fans are already finding reasons to be frustrated with it.

Pokemon Unite is a free-to-play game but while other MOBAs like Dota 2 and League of Legends have managed to avoid falling into the pay-to-win trap, Pokemon Unite has a possible pay-to-win mechanic. It isn’t overpowered characters that is the issue, it’s Held Items.

Pokemon can hold up to three Held Items at a time. There are a wide variety of different Held Items that are generally similar to those found in the mainline Pokemon games, including Leftovers, which heal Pokemon over time and Rocky Helmet which deals damage back to an attacker.

Held Items can be upgraded in Pokemon Unite from level one to level 30, with effectiveness typically being doubled at the maximum level. While three level 30 Held Items bestow a significant advantage over three level one items, are Held Items a legitimate pay-to-win mechanic in Pokemon Unite?

Is Pokemon Unite pay to win?

Though it’s not made obvious in the game, Pokemon Unite does have pay-to-win mechanics through its Held Items. Held Items can be leveled up by using Item Enhancers, which are most easily obtained by purchasing them using the for-cash Aeos Gems currency.

To upgrade a Held Item from level one to 30, it requires 2,587 Item Enhancers. Considering players typically only earn between 10 and 30 Item Enhancers or equivalent Aeos Tickets at a time through the various in-game means of obtaining them, that means it would take inordinate amounts of time to bring a Held Item up to level 30.

Those who can’t wait can use Aeos Gems to purchase them, with one Aeos Gem being worth the equivalent of one Item Enhancer apiece. If a player is willing to drop the cash to buy the gems for three level 30 Held Items, it gives them a significant power boost when they’re on the field.

Having three maxed out Held Items doesn’t guarantee victory, but it does help quite a bit and gives players a noticeable advantage over those who don’t have them. With time, players will be able to grind there way to level 30 Held Items but for the time being those who are willing to drop cash will have a significant edge over the thrifty gamer.

How much do Item Enhancers cost?

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Item Enhancers can be purchased from the Aeos Emporium section of the shop for 10 Aeos Tickets apiece. If the player has less than 10 Aeos Tickets, Aeos Gems can be substituted with one Aeos Gem being worth 10 Aeos Tickets.

How to get Item Enhancers in Pokemon Unite

Item Enhancers can be obtained in Pokemon Unite in a number of different ways, many of which boil down to grinding matches. Item Enhancers can be obtained as rewards for leveling up the battle pass, completing event challenges, and leveling up as a trainer. They can also be purchased through the Aeos Emporium for 10 Aeos Tickets apiece.

Players also have the option of simply buying them for cash with Aeos Gems. If a player runs out of Aeos Tickets and looks to purchase them through the Aeos Emporium, they will be presented the option to purchase them for Aeos Gems which cost real money. This is by far the fastest and easiest way to amass Item Enhancers.

How much does it cost to max out Held Items in Pokemon Unite?

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Bringing a held item up to level 30 costs 2,587 Item Enhancers. Purchasing this many Item Enhancers strictly with Aeos Gems would cost roughly $40.

Players can earn Item Enhancers by grinding in the game to obtain Battle Pass points, complete challenges, and level up their profile. But it will take an extremely long time to bring one Held Item all the way up to level 30 with how relatively scarce the items are.


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