One of the many things being introduced in The Division’s 1.6 update are microtransactions, despite previous promises that no such thing would be in the game.
‘Premium credits’ will be added to the game in the near future. These can be bought through the Uplay, Xbox or Playstation stores, or earned via Uplay rewards, but they can’t be earned in-game. With them, you’ll be able to buy vanity items like weapon and backpack skins, clothing, and emotes, but (currently) nothing that mechanically impacts the game like gear or weaponry. While it isn’t confirmed, the recently posted FAQ suggests that there will be items that are exclusively available through premium credits.
However, this addition directly contradicts statements made by Ubisoft last year, before the launch of the game. Talking to Eurogamer, a Ubisoft spokesperson directly said that 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.”
Things most people would consider microtransactions have been surrounding the game since launch. Vanity items like the Let it Snow and Parade packs can be bought through external storefronts like Uplay and Steam already, but they’re not purchasable in-game. That seems to be Ubisoft’s distinction between microtransactions and DLC: one is bought in-game, the other is bought outside of it. This argument doesn’t hold much water when you consider the scale and the price of these vanity items are much lower than the game’s expansions. They’re one or two cosmetic skins sold for a couple of whatever currency you use, and they have little to no impact on the game as a whole. That makes them microtransactions by the literal definition.
1.6’s premium credits, no matter how you spin it, still go against every part of that statement in a way the previously available not-microtransactions technically didn’t. These are vanity items that are bought using purchased currency through the game interface itself, which in Ubisoft’s reasoning classifies them as microtransactions. Heck, compared to most other microtransaction systems this is harsher due to the inability to earn the credits in any way in-game. You buy or you bog off.
Payday 2 developer Overkill was lambasted in 2015 after adding microtransactions to the game, despite them making a statement incredibly similar to Ubisoft’s. That caused such a (justified) uproar that the decision was rolled back. No matter how much I love The Division (I did give it my game of the year award, after all), I think the same should be done in this situation too.
LPVG has contacted Ubisoft for a statement on this, and will update should we get a response.