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Fallout 76 Stirs More Controversy in Alleged Pay-to-Win Microtransactions

Fallout 76 courts "utility" microtransactions with new Repair Kits, that strays from their original promise of keeping the Atomic Shop cosmetic only .

April 6, 2019

The debate rages on if time-saver microtransactions are pay-to-win. In a recent update to open-world survival game Fallout 76, the still-dedicated community noticed that there were non-cosmetic items coming to the real-money Atomic Shop. This would be a big departure from previous statements from developer Bethesda Softworks that the Atomic Shop would be cosmetic only, plunging the beleaguered game into another round of controversy.

News came from the latest blog post from Bethesda Softworks, discussing some of the expected changes to come both with and after Patch 8. Within that there was a section designated to Repair Kits, new utility items that will (according to Bethesda) “help you spend more time looting and shooting, and less time toiling away at a workbench fixing your gear.”

Both the Basic Repair Kits and Improved Repair Kits are single-use consumables that automatically restores the condition of items in your inventory to 100% or 150% based on which version you are using. Basic Repair Kits will only be unlockable in the Atomic Shop using purchased Atoms or ones obtained in-game; Improved Repair Kits can only be obtained as loot.

It would seem that Bethesda was hoping to preempt the controversy by discussing the change in policy and why they believe adding non-cosmetic items to the Atomic Shop will not impact gameplay. According to Bethesda, they are “exploring ways we can bring other community-driven ideas to the game, such as refrigerators for C.A.M.P.s, ammo and food converters, and eve nthe ability to send scrap to your stash without having to head home.” It isn’t explicitly stated, but it is implied that these features would be available in the Atomic Shop, ultimately creating a vertical where there are cosmetic and “utility” items available.

On the other hand, this is not fait accompli–according to Bethesda, they “plan to make adjustments based on” the community’s feedback which they will source when the feature rolls out.

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And the feedback from the community has come in droves… very little of it being positive. Most of the top comments deride the alleged pay-to-win “utility additions”:

The dedicated Fallout 76, normally a beacon of positivity in the game following the infamous Duffle Kurfuffle of 2018, is no less enraged — it has been a sticking point ever since:

DANGER SIGN: Repair kits (Non-cosmetic item) will be purchasable with Atoms only. from r/fo76

Others are donning more collusion-oriented ideas, believing that this was a planned move for some time. To prove this point, the community is pointing to how Bethesda in a recent patch nerfed the White Knight perk — an ability that reduces the wear on armor. With this in mind, the introduction of Repair Kits gives the impression they may be pushing more gamers to the Atomic Shop.

Obviously, there is no way to point if there is any truth to that, but it is disconcerting to see a shift away from the cosmetic-only approach. Bethesda has yet to make a comment to the riled up community, which is a shame–the team has been notably communicating early and often about the direction of the game.

Fallout 76 has taken its fair share of jabs from both critics, fans and retailers alike. On one hand, they have been dealing with issues stemming from major ban-waves where they make the players write essays to return; on the other end, many retailers have begun bundling the game with anything you can imagine to dump stock, including hard drives and used controllers.

Fallout 76 is currently available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. If you want to pop into the game now, you can order the game through Amazon.

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Lou Contaldi

Lou Contaldi specializes in both reviews and the business behind gaming. He began writing about tech and video games while getting his Juris Doctor at Hofstra University School of Law. He is maybe the only gaming journo based in Nashville, TN.

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