For Honor players did the math on its microtransactions and aren't happy about it

For Honor hasn't had an easy ride since launching almost a month ago. Between persistent connection problems, bugs that were never fixed from beta, and lively arguments over what constitutes fair play, enjoying Ubisoft's refreshing take on fighting games is an uphill battle. Now there's a new reason for fans to be up in arms: For Honor's microtransactions are exorbitantly expensive.

Coming off the heels of new emotes costing 7,000 steel—the in-game currency that can be bought in chunks of 5,000 for $4.99—players have done the math on how long it would take to grind out every unlockable and aren't happy with the results. 

Number crunchers 

While steel can be purchased outright, players also earn small amounts for finishing a match and completing daily objectives. That steel is then used for everything from buying gear packs for upgrading your hero's strength to customizing their outfits. The most expensive skins for heroes can range upwards of 15,000 steel. Then there are emotes, armor ornaments, special effects, execution moves—the list goes on. Basically, if you hope to add a little flair to your hero, you're going to need to grind up a serious amount of steel.

That's what led Reddit user bystander007 to run the numbers on how much time it'll take for those unwilling to buy the currency outright to purchase everything. "Ubisoft is notorious for their deceptively expensive multiplayer games as anyone who has played any of their recent Tom Clancy games could tell you," bystander007 writes. "I personally have just suppressed the completionist within me and stopped bothering to grind for unlocks. Once you do the math, you'll agree."

Here's the gist: Each hero in For Honor takes 91,500 steel to unlock all the customizations included in the base game. Since there's currently 12 heroes available, that means to unlock everything in For Honor, you'd need 1,098,000 steel. "That is approximately 7.32 of the $100 steel packs. So Ubisoft has valued their in-game unlocks within the base game at a $732 over-charge of the original $60-100 spent on the game," bystander007 writes. 

So how long would it take someone to accrue that amount of steel by grinding? Well, according to bystander007's math, if you played for between one or two hours a day it'd take about two and a half years. That's because the steel you earn for free is, at best, a pittance. Matches can reward as little as 15 steel for 10 minutes of play. Daily missions offer around 1000 steel if you can complete them, but that means most players will only earn about 1200 steel a day. And that's from defining casual as two hours a day, which, let's be honest, isn't that casual. "If you're a casual player with hope of unlocking everything in-game then just stop now. I'm serious, stop."

Of course, the obvious caveat is that the rate at which people earn steel will vary slightly depending on what daily missions are available and how often they win matches. But no matter how you calculate it, the answer to the question is always a damn long time. And that's completely ignoring the addition of new customizations like those 7,000 steel emotes and the DLC heroes that should be arriving soon. Understandably, players are upset. 

The division

But should they be? It's a question that has the For Honor community divided. After all, these unlocks are all strictly cosmetic and don't impact the game in any real way. "Cosmetic things never really bother me. If that is how they want to try to milk more of people, I am fine," writes one Redditor.

Others aren't so quick to dismiss the issue. "A lot of people in this thread are focusing too much on the fact that the content is cosmetic and not enough on the broader point that it is content and Ubisoft's reward structure is designed to corral players to purchase said content by making each consecutive push through a character a little more soul crushing in terms of resources," argues another user.

Even by other games' standards, For Honor seems to be on the pricier side. In an article covering the new emotes, Kotaku aptly points out that across the platform pond, Destiny only charges $4.99 for its premium emotes. What's more, Destiny's currency can be purchased in increments that are cleanly divisible by the things you'd spend them on. But if you want that 7,000 steel emote in For Honor, you're going to have to shell out $10 and find some use for the leftover 3,000 steel. 

Things get even muddier when you account for For Honor's terrible gear system. On the surface, the gear works similar to an RPG where better quality items increase your hero's strength and abilities. But packs of better gear can be bought for steel, which in turn can be bought for real money. In the simplest sense, players can buy power directly. That gear system also leaves casual players caught between the need to keep their gear upgraded and competitive or invest in the cool cosmetic options. And god help you if you focus on more than one hero.

While microtransactions in full-priced games aren't as contentious as they used to be, Ubisoft has clearly crossed a line with its community. There's a difference between offering some exclusive rewards for people with extra cash to burn and baking microtransactions into the very fiber of the game. Given how long it takes to grind steel, it makes the whole process feel punishing. With everything else For Honor's community has to rightfully complain about, Ubisoft needs to stop alienating its fans.

"It's time to cut the free to play model crap," writes VforVitor in a thread lambasting the new emotes. "We paid a shitload for this game and I'm not saying that selling steel is wrong per se, but [these] exorbitant prices are a fucking slap in my face." 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.