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Wolfenstein: Youngblood’s microtransaction mess, explained

Bethesda’s messaging didn’t match the reality

the sisters from Wolfenstein: Youngblood attack a Nazi in mechanical armor Arkane Studios, MachineGames/Bethesda Softworks

The microtransactions offered in Bethesda Softworks’ Wolfenstein: Youngblood are proving to be controversial with some fans. Much of the anger seems to come from the fact that it has been hard to figure out what items can be purchased with premium currency bought with real money, and which can only be purchased using in-game currency picked up during normal play.

Matt Frary, director of PR at Bethesda Softworks, even tweeted this message earlier today:

The answer to that question is no, not everyone understands that you can’t buy boosters in Youngblood. And their confusion isn’t their fault at all. I know this because I was there on the game’s first day of release, trying desperately to figure out what the heck was going on.

So wait … what can you buy?

I was working on a guide that explained exactly what you could or couldn’t buy with premium currency on Friday, July 26, and the task proved to be harder than I had anticipated. The Steam listing for gold bars, Youngblood’s premium currency, stated that you could use them to buy consumables and other items that could give you an advantage in the game.

Here is the original listing from that morning:

Contains gold bars, an in-game currency used to acquire new power armor and weapon skins, gear, pep signals, and consumables to help you and your friends battle through Nazi occupied Paris.

But when I looked at the boosters in the game’s menus, I noticed that they could only be purchased with in-game currency, not gold bars. Here’s an image to show you what I mean:

A list of boosters from Wolfenstein: Youngblood, with a cost of 200 silver coins each.
These boosters could not be purchased with premium currency
MachineGames, Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks

So the official listing for the premium currency said they could be used to buy boosters, but the PC version of the game contradicted the listing, while the PS4 version of the game not only let you purchase boosters with gold bars, but there were more boosters available to purchase. Here’s another screenshot, taken on the PS4 version that Friday afternoon:

A list of boosters on the PS4 version of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, with prices listed in gold bars and silver coins
At launch, these boosters on the PS4 version of the game could be purchased with gold bars
MachineGames/Bethesda Softworks

So, at launch, the PlayStation 4 version of Wolfenstein: Youngblood did have an XP booster and a silver coin booster that could be purchased with premium currency as well as in-game currency, and neither of these two boosters existed in the PC version of the game at the time.

I contacted Bethesda to ask about what was going on, and was told that these differences were meant to have been patched out of the game before launch. After receiving that email over the weekend, we’ve done a hard boot of each system and restarted the game to make sure any patches have had a chance to be installed, and checked to make sure everything matched up with what Bethesda said. The ability to use premium currency to buy boosters was removed.

The updated Steam listing for gold bars has also been edited to remove any note about consumables. This is how the text looks at the time of publication:

Contains Gold Bars, an in-game currency used to acquire new power armor and weapon skins to help you and your friends battle through Nazi occupied Paris.

The extra boosters are no longer available on the PS4 version of the game, and premium currency now seems to be limited in use to cosmetic items. This seems to be the way it was always intended, although it’s possible that the conversation about what to include and how to sell each item continued right until the launch date of the game, or the final decisions weren’t patched into the shipping game quickly enough to keep the boosters from being sold for premium currency at launch. There was even some confusion in interviews before the game’s launch about microtransaction plans.

Our guide has since been updated, and as of now is accurate, but trying to figure out what was being sold on which platform, and how, was much more complicated than it needed to be, and the situation was adjusted relatively quickly after the game’s initial launch.

The confusion makes perfect sense now that it’s clear that different listings on different platforms were saying different things, and the selection of boosters changed after players first had a chance to play the game for themselves. Trying to figure out what was happening was confusing as hell.

So it’s not just that players are confused about whether they can buy boosters — they had every reason to be confused. The issue is that the game launched with muddled, sometimes contradictory messages about what was being sold, and for how much, on each platform.

But it’s not fake outrage that’s led to this situation. The real problem lay in a botched launch of the game’s economy combined with poor messaging.

But now, after all that? It’s true that you can’t buy boosters for premium currency, but players could do so, for a brief time, and the situation could always change in the future. The microtransactions in the game are pretty fair, in my opinion, but confusion over what they were is never a good way to calm people down.

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