If I want to buy a new sub-class for my favorite dwarf warrior in Warhammer: Vermintide 2, I can do that right through the Steam store: it costs $3.99. Vermintide 2 also has an in-game cosmetic shop using a currency called shillings, earnable by playing the game, but some of its skins are sold for real cash, too: I can spend $2.99 to give my bright wizard a new look. That option doesn't exist in developer Fatshark's new 40K game, Darktide.
Instead, Darktide follows the common F2P game monetization route of making you buy a premium currency in bundles—$4.99 for 1000 Aquilas, in this case—which you can then spend on skins. There's currently no way to buy exactly how many Aquilas you need for a one-off purchase, which some angry players have called "predatory bullshit." According to Fatshark lead developers, that was the opposite of their intention.
"We want to be fair—it's so disappointing to see [those posts]," Fatshark co-founder Martin Wahlund told me in an interview with PC Gamer on Thursday. "That's the last thing we want to be. The whole thing is to get people, if they want to, to buy it."
There are two intertwined issues at play here: one is the switch to a premium currency, which some players lament as a step down from the simplicity of simply paying cash for cosmetics in Vermintide 2. The second is the bundles that can force players to spend more than they need for a skin. That, Wahlund said, was actually a mistake.
"We forgot to add one of the bundles. The idea was always to be 1:1. We realized a bit too late that one of the bundles wasn't in. It takes a bit of time to get it approved and stuff like that. But we for sure need to improve that, and we hear people. We got that one wrong, and we need to rectify that to make sure people don't have that friction at all."
Game director Anders de Geer said that it was an "honest mistake on our part," as the team focused on fixing bugs during the beta period, though he understands players will be skeptical of that answer. de Geer also explained why the switch to an in-game currency was an important move for making the cosmetics store much easier to manage.
"You have to price everything differently in all regions, so whatever you release, and every time you release something, you have to go through pricing it in all the different regions and making sure it works. That's something this helps with: we just have to price it once, and then we can sort that out in the game."
The in-game currency also opens up the door to Twitch drops and giving away premium cosmetics, which de Geer said Fatshark couldn't do in Vermintide. "We can't really go 'here's 5 bucks, spend it on our game in Steam, hopefully.'"
Fatshark wasn't able to say when the Darktide store will be updated with a bundle that lets you buy a specific number of Aquilas, but it's on the way.