What defines a microtransaction? How micro is “micro”, and does the name refer to the size of those payments, the location you make them from, or the nature of the goods you’re buying? That’s the quandary raised by Ubisoft. A community manager tweeted that “There will be no microtransactions, and definitely no P2W” in their new online shooter, The Division. This was simply repeating an answer given in interviews back in January, but the catch is that the game will have DLC, and that DLC will include “vanity items”, which are the kind of thing normally sold via microtransactions.
So RPS asks you: what is a microtransaction?
Here’s the recent tweet from the Ubisoft community manager:
@Tovarisc_ There will be no microtransactions, and definitely no P2W
— natchai stappers (@natchai_) February 26, 2016
And here’s a story from Eurogamer in January, which quotes The Division’s creative director Magnus Jansen acknowledging the unclear definition:
“I don’t know if there’s a globally agreed definition of the word microtransactions, but you don’t pay to win or advance or anything like that. We have DLC plans – which we’re not talking about now – and obviously you’ll pay for that, but in addition to that there’s no microtransactions, as I define them.”
An Ubisoft representative later clarified that “Magnus’s statement is correct, there will be no microtransactions at all. Not even for vanity items. Vanity items will be sold as DLC, through the regular first-party stores.”
Personally, I like vanity items, and the freedom microtransactions afford me to buy them individually rather than as part of a set, which DLC normally tends to offer. Other people hate them and feel that they are universally a case of developers nickel-and-diming players for items that ought to have been in the base game to start with. But however you feel, this seems like bad news: if you dislike these items, it’s bad news because the game is going to have them; if you like these items, it’s bad news because you might not be able to buy them in the way you’d prefer.
I dislike pay-to-win obviously, and haven’t seen any evidence of that in The Division via the betas. I’ve yet to hear a game developer admit that their game is pay-to-win pre-release, though.
The Division is an interesting game, so I’m curious what you think. Bonus points if your comments include suggestions for what we should call “DLC” and “Microtransactions” instead.