Diablo 4 lead designer Joe Shely confirmed that the long-awaited Blizzard title would feature cosmetic microtransactions similar to those in Blizzard’s shooter Overwatch.
Shely discussed the upcoming game’s microtransactions during a hands-on look at Diablo 4 with Twitch streamer Quin69 that took place during BlizzCon 2019. He added that Diablo 4 will be updated periodically with post-launch content, along with in-game cosmetic purchases.
“Diablo IV will be available as a base game … we’re going to have expansions,” Shely said during the stream. “You will also be able to acquire cosmetics in the game … It’s very early … but yes.”
Shely also briefly mentioned that Diablo 4 will introduce an auction system, though he did not provide significant details on how it would work. Diablo 3 had an auction house feature upon release that allowed players to sell their in-game gear for real-world dollars. Blizzard eventually removed the auction house from the game in 2014 after a massive outcry from players who felt the feature allowed some to pay to win.
When asked how microtransactions will be implemented into the game, Shely responded by saying: “It’s not clear just yet what form these cosmetic microtransactions might take.” Shely added that Diablo 4 “will not sell power,” meaning that most, if not all, of the microtransactions in Diablo 4 will be limited to cosmetic items, such as skins, and not power-ups that could affect gameplay.
In recent years, microtransactions have been a hot debate topic in the industry, especially when they’re included in full-priced $60 games. Fortunately, cosmetic microtransactions do not impact gameplay and, when done correctly, can provide an additional revenue stream after launch, which can increase the likelihood of a company like Blizzard adding additional post-launch content into a game.
Microtransactions have become such a large issue in gaming that even politicians and government agencies around the world have moved to regulate them. In 2017, Belgium’s gaming commission ruled that loot boxes, which users can purchase for a chance at winning in-game perks, are a form of gambling. Earlier this year, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) introduced a bill that would ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions, though that bill has not advanced in the Senate.
Blizzard has yet to announce a release date for Diablo 4. The game will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.