Activision Blizzard will sell cosmetic items in Diablo IV. Lead designer Joe Shely revealed that Blizzard plans to monetise some cosmetics during an interview with Twitch streamer Quintin Crawford.
Crawford is better known as Quin69, a streamer who made a name for himself playing the Monk class in Diablo III. He has since switched his focus to World of WarCraft. Crawford was interviewing Shely on his Twitch channel following the announcement of Diablo IV at Blizzcon.
Ralph Panebianco, who operates a YouTube channel called Skill Up, highlighted Shely's answer to Crawford's question on Twitter.
Crawford asked Shely how Blizzard plans to monetise Diablo IV. Shely said that Diablo IV will have a base price, expansions packs, and cosmetic microtransactions.
Asked if cosmetics would be available through a shop of some kind, Shely replied: "It's still very early, but yes."
Crawford commented that he likes the microtransaction business model as it will fund ongoing development of Diablo IV and ensure that the game doesn't die.
In response, Shely said: "It's also an opportunity to have more options available than you would otherwise. I mean, you build more stuff, of course."
Crawford's interview with Shely is embedded below. His monetisation questions happens at around the 18:20 mark.
Having microtransactions in a full-price game is a contentious issue in the gaming community, even if they are for purely cosmetic gear and not items that can provide players with an in-game advantage.
Some players argue that there is no problem with monetising in-game items, provided that it has no material impact on gameplay. Others are critical of the claim that such in-game items allow developers to offer players more options, or that cosmetic items are truly optional in games like Diablo.
Diablo III received a robust cosmetic "transmogrification" system with its paid-for expansion, Reaper of Souls. Transmogrification in Diablo III requires only in-game currency.
However, certain cosmetic items in Diablo III and other Blizzard titles have always been linked to purchases. If you bought the Collector's Edition of Reaper of Souls, you would get an exclusive pet and certain "skins" for your weapon and armour.
Blizzard would also offer such exclusives across its franchises to reward players who buy several of its games. If you bought the Collector's Edition of StarCraft: Legacy of the Void, it would include a StarCraft-themed pet and armour transmogrifications.
In addition to such premium cosmetics, Diablo III players could earn cosmetic items as rewards during "seasons". Seasons are free, regular updates to Diablo III. You have to reach specific milestones or complete challenges to earn the cosmetic items of a season.
Shely's revelation that Diablo IV will include cosmetic microtransactions has resulted in an (understandable) knee-jerk reaction.
Ultimately, it will come down to how Blizzard decides to implement these microtransactions.
While some players will be opposed to the idea on principle, others won't care one way or the other so long as the new paid-for cosmetics are truly additional, and do not subtract from Diablo IV.