Riot Games’ Valorant Will Reportedly Launch With 5 Free & 5 Unlockable Characters
Until now, Valorant has been described as a free-to-play game, and this remains true. It appears that like other games that carry the same label, the ability to purchase additional characters with real money will be available for those who want to access a new character immediately, while those who are content to wait can do so and gradually accumulate in-game currency.
This is great news for several reasons. Players have zero risk of trying the game out; because it is free, anyone can dive into the action and decide if the precision gameplay is for them, and if not, move on to other games. Once vested into the game however, making purchases with real money is always the most direct way of supporting the developer and affirming that the game is something they want to see flourish.
The monetization structure for unlocking characters beyond the initial five also looks to be an ideal way of maximizing the player base, while also limiting the potential for smurfing. In many games, smurfing involves creating a brand-new account to play competitive games at a skill level not representative of a player with several end goals.
This can be done in games like Dota 2 or Fortnite with different goals in mind. In Dota 2, a skilled player can create a new account and quickly climb through the competitive ranks with the goal of selling that account. In Fortnite, smurfing is typically done to play against new or low-skilled opponents for the purposes of streaming how “good” the player is. Aydan “Ghost Aydan” Conrad did this in Fortnite in September 2019 and received a well-deserved ban for this toxic, unsportsmanlike behavior.
In Valorant, the mix of some characters being free and others being locked behind a purchase means that fewer players will bother to smurf because they will need to first spend resources to acquire the characters they like, and if banned, will face a frustrating experience of spending money on an account that is then worthless. Though this does not eliminate smurfing with those base characters, it still deals with the core issue in at least a partial way.
Since Valorant is keeping most information about its launch quite for now, further details are not yet available about how much it will cost to acquire new characters. The game proposes to have an economy similar to CS:GO, so it will be fascinating to see if cosmetic items can be traded for currency, which could in turn be used to purchase new characters.
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