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What's the deal with The Division's microtransactions?

I Clancy clearly now.

Since Ubisoft revealed The Division back at E3 in 2013, there have been plenty of questions whizzing around it - and when we first set eyes on it, we weren't quite sure whether the ambitious open-world shooter with MMO tendencies would be subscription-based or a boxed release.

Some things are now clearer - The Division will be a boxed release, coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on March 8th - but others remain a little murky.

At a recent press event, Eurogamer asked The Division's creative director Magnus Jansen whether the game will be supported by DLC, microtransactions or both.

"It's definitely just the one - the DLC," said Jansen. "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."

Those DLC plans include free updates as well as paid expansions that, understandably, aren't being detailed just yet. But there may be more to it than that. When asked for a little more clarity on the situation, Eurogamer was supplied with the following statement from Ubisoft:

"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.​"

So there will be no microtransactions, even for vanity items. Though vanity items will be sold as DLC. Confused? So am I.

There seems to be some disagreement over the semantics of what is and what isn't a microtransaction, with Ubisoft choosing to believe that the term only applies to in-game items that pertain to game progression. So there'll be no purchasable in-game currency, and no pay-to-win items in The Division - all grand news.

What there will be, it seems, is vanity items that can be bought for the game - things with little bearing on the core gameplay such as emotes, as in Destiny, or weapon skins. It's a practice that's employed by countless games, and while it's not to the taste of some it's become a standard. It is a practice, though, that is commonly known as a microtransaction, so Ubisoft may find that it has invited confusion and suspicion among players by refusing to describe it as such. While Ubisoft's reluctance to use the term is understandable, there's a chance it will backfire and end up obscuring the good news: The Division will not be a pay-to-win game.

So, will The Division have microtransactions? Ubisoft is saying no, though right now it seems to be a matter of definition.

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