Today is the one-year anniversary of The Division’s launch, and after releasing three paid expansions over the past 12 months, publisher Ubisoft is going with a different strategy for the game’s second year: free content in the form of two large expansions, the company announced today.
“All of the content updates that we’re going to provide are going to be free content updates,” said Julian Gerighty, creative director on The Division at developer Massive Entertainment, during a Twitch livestream today. “There is no season pass for year two.”
If players wanted everything in the first year of The Division, they had to pay at least $100: $59.99 for the game itself, plus an additional $39.99 for the season pass, which covered the three expansions. (The expansions cost $14.99 if they’re purchased individually.) In addition, Ubisoft received criticism for its timed exclusivity arrangement with Microsoft, under which each of the expansions debuted on Windows PC and Xbox One and then arrived approximately one month later on PlayStation 4. This was compounded by serious gameplay issues that forced Massive to delay the second and third expansions.
No platforms will be lagging behind any others in Year Two. “Everything that comes out is going to be released on all platforms at the same time,” said Hamish Bode, a community developer at Massive, during the livestream. You can watch the full archive of the stream below; it begins at the 43:13 mark.
Both of The Division’s Year Two expansions are unnamed at this point. The first one, which is scheduled for release this summer, will consist of three major elements. First, Massive is introducing a system — currently called Seasons, although the name isn’t final — that will give players limited-time events to try out. Each event will flip traditional Division activities on their head with “strong modifiers,” said Gerighty, encouraging players to experiment with tactics. The events will feature their own leaderboards, but players won’t just receive rewards for competition; finishing or just participating in the events will do the trick, too.
Gerighty added that the expansion will also add the ability to create and swap loadouts, a feature that fans have long requested. Finally, it will include a system called Feats — also a placeholder name — that essentially functions as in-game achievements. If players complete various tasks, like accumulating a certain number of kills, they’ll receive “patches that are marks of distinction” to show off their accomplishments.
The Division players have also been clamoring for more story content, and Massive is planning to deliver it in some form: Gerighty said that the second expansion in Year Two will “have more of a narrative weight to it” than the first. However, he managed expectations with a dose of real talk during the livestream.
“We’re going to work on seeing, OK, how can we inject more story into Year Two?” said Gerighty. “One thing’s for sure, though, is that a large, paid DLC expansion of the playable area into Queens, a level cap increase — that’s off the table.” It seems like content with that scope would require the kind of resources that aren’t supported by a business model in which expansions are free, although Ubisoft added microtransactions to The Division with the version 1.6 update last week.
“We can’t really deliver story missions that will fit into the RPG aspects of the game in a simple way,” said Gerighty in an interview with the UbiBlog. “So we’re not going to be doing the classic main mission type of thing, but narrative content is something that we are definitely looking at.”
On the microtransaction front, Ubisoft is giving all players a free drop of 200 premium credits from March 9-16, as part of its anniversary celebration for The Division. Premium credits — which cost approximately $1 per 100 credits — are used to buy customization items such as clothes, weapon skins and emotes. Massive is also marking the anniversary by offering a double multiplier on high-value target rewards from March 9-11 and a double multiplier for field proficiency caches on March 11.