Diablo 3 Will Add Microtransactions

Diablo fans will soon have the opportunity to trade their hard-earned, real-life money for in-game items. Microtransactions are heading to Diablo 3, but they're skipping the United States and Europe.

Blizzard is gearing up to release yet another major overhaul on Diablo 3. The patch, which will be begin testing very soon, adds new content and squashes a few bugs, while sprinkling in some "quality of life" improvements. The announcement's biggest surprise, however, revolves around the word "microtransactions."

According to the patch notes, Blizzard is adding a new in-game currency called "Platinum" that players will use to purchase "wings, non-combat pets, and character portraits." However, none of these things will be available in the Americas or Europe.

Here's what Blizzard is leaving out of the western release:

  • A new currency called "Platinum"
  • Timed experience boosts
  • New cosmetic items including wings, non-combat pets, and character portraits
  • References to stash space and character slot expansions
  • A new UI interface that references the above information

Microtransactions are a sensitive subject in the United States. Many gamers feel that video games are already too expensive, so real-money purchases are perceived as a nickel-and-diming tactic. But Asia's gaming market survives on microtransactions. In 2008 Valve released a free-to-play version of Counter-Strike called Counter-Strike Online that's only available overseas. And Activision launched Call of Duty Online last summer. Both titles, along with a potpourri of others, are funded entirely through microtransactions.

So, the fact that Blizzard's Platinum currency will only be available in Asia's gaming market isn't surprising. Though, Blizzard isn't entirely closing the door on an American release. Here's a snippet from the press release:

We recognize that many players have expressed an interest in microtransactions being added to Diablo III. While we may explore this model in some regions, we have no immediate plans to implement such purchases anytime soon for the Americas region.

Maybe someday I'll be able to spend my money on wings, non-combat pets, and character portraits.

Even if you're an avid opponent of microtransactions, you have to respect Blizzard's dedication to Diablo 3. The game was released in 2012, but it's undergone several major overhauls within the last few years. The loot system, leveling, and interface have all seen major improvements, and the controversial auction house was completely removed last year.

This kind of continued development is great for the players, but it's expensive for the developer. Hopefully Blizzard will find the right balance between supporting the community and profitability.

Patch 2.2.0 will be "launching shortly," but Blizzard is famous for missing deadlines. So, it'll be done when it's done.