Borderlands 3 will have microtransactions, but only for cosmetic items

Gearbox and 2K haven't exactly been clear when it comes to Borderlands 3's microtransactions, but it now sounds like the third game will largely be sticking to the model of its predecessor: there won't be free-to-play-style microtransactions, but there will be DLC, heads and skins that you'll be able to purchase. 

We're not doing any of that free-to-play junk.

—Randy Pitchford, Gearbox CEO

"As you can plainly see, we’ve made a commitment to what Borderlands is and supposed to be," CEO Randy Pitchford said. "We’ve made a commitment to the story, style and design that our fans have told us loud and clear that they cherish and want us to preserve in Borderlands 3 … There's no microtransaction-y, free-to-play kind of stuff."

Pitchford repeated this in different words during the gameplay reveal livestream on Wednesday. "We're gonna do some kickass campaign DLC. And I'm sure we're going to do all kinds of fun customizations like heads and skins, but we're not doing any of that free-to-play junk. There's not going to be any microtransactions, there's not going to be any of that nonsense," he said.

Creative director Paul Sage clarified that while skins, heads and auxiliary equipment will be available for purchase, they won't be pay-to-win and Gearbox isn't going down the games-as-a-service route. He also confirmed that there are no plans at all for microtransaction currencies or similar things that players will be pushed to buy. 

This isn't to say that Borderlands 3 won't drain your back balance if you let it. Borderlands 2 also didn't have in-game microtransactions, but it did have almost 50 pieces of DLC, including a season pass, new characters, quests, equipment, skins, boosts—you name it, you could get it. In the latest game, much of this is already available via the season pass and various editions.  

The $80 Deluxe edition comes with three cosmetic packs, a weapon pack and XP and loot drop boost mods; for $100 you can get the Super Deluxe version, complete with the season pass; and for a whopping $250 you can pick up the fanciest edition and its cloth map, figurines, ship model and art.

Loot and XP boosts don't sound very cosmetic, though, do they? And you do have to spend money to buy them. Here's what 2K had to say about them when we asked what the deal was:

"While Borderlands 3 is not a competitive game, where boosts could lead to direct player advantages and be considered a competitive concern, we still take balance of the progression and loot systems in the game very seriously. We are still fine-tuning these systems in Borderlands 3, and the benefits the boosts in the Deluxe, Super Deluxe and Collector’s Edition will provide, but at this stage we can confirm that the Loot and XP boosts will both be level capped and tied to specific pieces of gear, similar to boosts in past Borderlands games. The intent is to give those players an initial boost, but not something that permeates the entire Borderlands 3 experience indefinitely."

As long as the regular experience hasn't been transformed into a grind to make boosts more appealing, it doesn't sound like much of a problem. As a rule, I can stomach as much DLC and microtransactions as developers want to cram into their games, as long as I don't get pestered by it. I might even buy it! There's some advice for you, devs: pretend you don't want my money and I might actually give you more. 

Here's everything else we know about Borderlands 3, which is due out on September 13. 

Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.