Last week's detailed announcement of the coming Division 1.6 update contained a line, down near the very bottom, that probably didn't get as much attention as it should have: "We’ll also be revamping the in-game store, adding a new currency and extending the range of items available for purchase at a special vendor." What that means, as this Premium Credits FAQ explains, is that in-game microtransactions for cosmetic items are on the way.
There was some confusion, and a spot of uproar, early last year over Ubisoft's approach to (and definition of) microtransactions in The Division. It said at the time that there would not be any—but that there would be "DLC packs" with arguably microtransaction-like character customization options available for purchase through "first-party stores."
Premium Credits, as the new currency is called, will be a little bit different. They can be purchased through the in-game store, with real-money only—sorry, no grinding them out—and are used to by exclusive cosmetic items from a specific in-game vendor. Items can be shared between all characters on the same account (but not between multiple accounts), and stuff purchased with Premium Credits won't count toward your inventory capacity: You can continue to load up on Premium items even if your inventory is full.
Ubisoft emphasized that Premium items are purely cosmetic, and will have no impact on gameplay. "We want to preserve a fair game environment and would not allow for players to get any form of competitive advantage based on money they spent on Premium Credits," the FAQ states. As for why they're being added now, well, it's the obvious answer.
"While we want to offer more opportunities for you to customize your characters, we also need to find a way to do so sustainably without impacting the resources available for the main game," it says. "Monetizing them will allow us to keep creating more vanity option independently without any impact on the rest of the game production."
Premium Credits will debut on the PTS as part of the 1.6 update testing, and all players taking part will be granted an unspecified amount in order to test the system. Those credits and items purchased with them, however, will not carry over to the live game. Premium Credits pricing will be announced "at a later date."