Microtransactions in fully-priced games are (unfortunately) here to stay for as long as they keep working—that’s a bitter pill I’ve swallowed at this point, though every now and then something comes along to make it sting all over again. As is the case with Diablo 4’s recent “Dark Pathways” pack, which wants you to shell out $20 for some portal reskins (and $10 for some coins).
As spotted by our friends over at GamesRadar, the pack has made several waves in the game’s subreddit over the past couple of weeks for being a solid way to waste your money—here’s the most recent thread, though there are complaints stretching back to the pack’s inception. “This doesn’t make sense lol”, writes one flabbergasted player, staring down the barrel of a $40 CAD price point for some pretty portals and pocket change.
I’m a little staggered myself. Not just by the price point, but at the fact you’ve gotta shell out almost $10 extra just to get access to them. Sure, you’re getting platinum for the price hike, but it feels like a blatantly cynical tack-on. Especially since it’s the exact same price you’d pay for 1,000 platinum from the store anyway.
As this similarly shocked player points out, $30 can buy you a lot of actual game nowadays: “Almost half the price of the game” is one thing, but Helldivers 2 is $40. Palworld and Enshrouded are $30. Heck, you can go buy Divinity: Original Sin 2 almost three times for that amount of dosh. The only reason you’d buy this thing is to prove you’ve got the money to burn.
Though that may be the point. Costly microtransactions like this are aimed at players with deep wallets rather than the average consumer—the practice is so common that there’s a term for it: the “whale”. I don’t think Blizzard cares if the majority of players can’t afford the Dark Pathways pack—because what’s ostensibly just some palette shifts and particle effects will be bought by somebody, and it’s an easy way to turn a profit.
Of course, they’re just cosmetic, but there’s a sadness in how bundles like these rob the game of its potential rewards. Imagine how neat it’d be to earn these class-specific portals in-game by completing specific class challenges, maybe even as a reward for getting a class to level 100 in a specific season. Nope, they’re shop fodder. Sorry. That’ll be $30, please.