Understanding the cash shop drama and exploring solutions

Unexpected Problems

So lets get to the point, the cash shop and premium currency system in general wasn’t received as well as Fatshark expected. By no means are the reasons for the negative reception universal but most people will have agreed with at least one of the issues I will list.

(FYI you can click the points below to read a more detailed breakdown)

Obvious priority was given to ensuring the smooth delivery of the cash shop at launch.
Considering that it carries a lot of real liability since it handles real money transactions and was probably core to the long term business model for the game it makes sense that the cash shop’s delivery at launch was as clean and immediate as it was. The problem was that it felt like the only tangible new addition to the game compared to the beta version which people had been play-testing the day before.

This put the game on the backfoot with its public relations in the release period by creating a negative perception that the launch was just the addition of a new revenue stream to further monetise the beta instead of actually delivering any real performance improvements or content to differentiate it as a matured product.

This killed off and dampened a lot of the goodwill that had been built over the beta period regarding the games potential where many beta players seemed otherwise willing to overlook a rough launch with the expectation of a great product in the long run, souring a large portion of the community just as new people were beginning to flood in.

Unclear Limited-time rotation of premium cosmetics.
Despite speculation that this practice was in some way, somewhere, illegal as was hotly claimed during initial opposition to the implementation of the cash shop… I’m pretty confident in saying by this point, that between the fact that its common place in plenty of other games and the lack of any credible developments suggesting otherwise, it is not. Not in the EU, Sweden specifically nor anywhere else. Shocking.

The root problem as I see it was that there was no explanation on what the limited time meant at all; no clear statement on if the cosmetics would rerun or not and no roadmap explaining what other cosmetics could be expected to replace them later, to let people who wanted or needed to spend their money wisely make an informed decision.

The lack of information to make an informed purchase within the limited sales window with no clear indication of how limited the cosmetics would be in the long run was most definitely exploiting FOMO practices. Legality or intent doesn’t change the fact that the cash shop was perceived on reception as distinctly anti-consumer by many as a result, to the point that it motivated people to go beyond voicing individual discontent and actively organise coordinated protests.

Fighting the cash shop Implimentation via email: SUGGESTED ACTION

I seriously suggest negatively reviewing the game, and not buying micros

… I shouldn’t have to explain why that is especially damaging for FS when going into the immediate post-launch period and will continue to leave lingering damage to public perception of the cash shop and game in the long run.

Premium Currency Problems.

  • Aquilas weren’t necessary - While i do feel like constant comparisons to Vermintide games got pretty annoying, the decision to move from VT2’s cash shop with upfront pricing to an intermediary premium currency added nothing to the game or stores functionality. Because you only get them through purchase it did nothing except invite further criticism about anti-consumer practices where players perceived an intent to separate the product from the price-tag in the customers decision making.

  • Aquila packs were priced poorly - An issue that has since been addressed, but for which the damage was already done. On launch none of the packs of Aquilas for purchase added up to or matched the cost of the cosmetic bundles or individual pieces, this was again seen as anti-consumer by players who felt they had to pay more to get what they wanted and suspected that the remainder was intended to encourage future purchase. The credibility of Aquilas as a currency and FS intentions with the cash shop were damaged as a result.

Community Fallout

You probably didn’t need to read all of that to have felt that this whole thing wasn’t good to both the games launch and its community. I’ve been too busy enjoying vaporising and stabbing people since the beta to really engage with the whole drama on the forums and the cash shop was honestly pretty generic to me, but even two weeks from launch you cant really go anywhere Darktide related without seeing someone reciting from their book of grudges.

People perceived ill intent in how the cash shop was implemented which resulted in a lot of backlash, drama and negative opinion that eroded Fatshark’s trust and goodwill. It put the non-feature complete and unstable state of the rest of the game in a negative light as people speculated on the companies business decisions and intent to actually deliver on promises for a game now considered fully released and fully monetised.

Plenty of people like myself have already spent many hours enjoying what the game has to offer and are looking forward to spending more in the future, but the long-term health of the game depends on player retention and consequently the value of any time or money invested into it. The layers of RNG progression mechanics intended to retain players with things to grind out haven’t exactly received critical acclaim either, so seeing the game get review bombed on steam on release and turning off potential new players is hitting when and where it hurts.

Why haven’t Fatshark just changed it?

Because they know they need to respond to the situation quickly but a total 180 cant be done in the short term, and a long term solution would be too little too late. There are certain things that FS has already put in the game that cant be easily replaced or worked around, to break it down using Fatsharks own words;

The shop UI layout is set in stone.

It’s important to note that the store is on rotation to give players some variety while at the same time not creating clutter. We feel that unlimited store pages are likely to create confusion and a bad user experience.

People took this statement as Fatshark straight up saying they have ogryn IQ, because ogryn jump the shark like that. The other way to read it is as their UI design philosophy, which is really no different from any other modern game trying to ‘guide the user through the experience’.

TL;DR they wanted big icons with preview pictures front and centre which is ‘easy to navigate’ like a mobile store, and not straight up utilitarian Amazon or Ebay catalogue… understandable even if you’re used to buying 40k minis through them.

Why not quickly redo the UI you ask? Same reason the store was so polished and seamless in the first place; they cant afford to do a quick slap-job and hope nothing goes wrong. If ‘just change the UI’ was easy new versions of windows wouldn’t be something you fend off with a stick until a year or two after release.

Timers are here to stay.

Our plan for the shop is to give players more time between rotation periods until we reach three screens worth of cosmetic bundles. The timer will remain inactive until the first page is due to be rotated out with 24 hours remaining.

Fatshark understands the timers were received poorly, but despite trying to address the problem they cant seem to be able to afford removing them. The way I see it this is partly connected to the UI they’re stuck with for the foreseeable future, and partly due to the fact that rotating cosmetics with some degree of limited availability was likely a core part of their long term business plan’s revenue streams.

So in this case even if they did rework the UI to support all the cosmetics now and forever to show in the shop at once, the block instead is that management most likely wouldn’t greenlight it until a business case can be built to prove its still financially viable to cover the gaps in their old one… Not a quick solution because business management is fun like that.

Aquilas are in Darktides spaghetticode.

We heard your feedback on the store loud and clear, and we are making adjustments to how Aquilas are packaged. We are working on adding an 2,400 Aquilas pack to the store, which will arrive next week. We will also add a 100 Aquilas pack within the next few weeks, allowing players to buy smaller fractions of Aquilas. In addition, we are also going to change other functionalities of the store over time.

Remember this? I mentioned it earlier, its when Aquilas originally weren’t sold in packs that summed or were equal to the deals on offer. This solved the issue and put it to bed, but do you ever think the solution was kind of awkward?

Spaghetti code is like if you laid a brick wall only to find one of the bricks in a lower layer was laid wrong and needs to be redone: depending on how early something was implemented in development there can be a multitude of other systems piled on top that may or may not be indirectly dependent on that code existing. This means removing or reworking a feature can kick up problems in otherwise irrelevant things that were laid afterwards, with greater risk the deeper it is embedded.

I find the solution strange because adjusting the store to sell packs of 100 Aquillas as an emergency response is ETA’d as something that will be delivered in working weeks. I know what I said about UI changes not being quick and easy but that sounds to me like a bad case of spaghetti code. My point is, if reworking the distribution of Aquilas is measured in weeks I don’t think removing them entirely is something you could call a rapid solution to be delivered in the short term.

The specifics as to why are speculative but the points overall should be an accurate summary of things FS seems incapable or unwilling to rework based on their actions and statements.

So what can Fatshark do about it?

I usually don’t write up post mortems on internet drama for the fun of it, so lets get to moving on shall we? In the interests of suggesting something that would let the game and community move on from this mess without requiring significant overhaul to the game or business plan I wanted to keep it simple, Behold.

Sire Melk’s weekly contracts should reward players with 200 free Aquilas

It piggybacks of an existing weekly reward system and simple injects an additional reward currency into the equation, cant get much simpler. The specifics on how the 200 weekly Aquilas are awarded can be variable, but 20 Aquilas for each contract and 100 for the full completion bonus sounds reasonable.

Why 200 a week?

  • It strikes a good balance between genuinely rewarding peoples time and not undermining the in-game premium economy.

    • With a month of full participation you would have the 600-800 Aquilas to buy a decently priced cosmetic from the store

    • By saving up rewards over roughly a quarter of the year you can stockpile enough to buy one of the limited time 2400 Aquila bundles

Why fixed 20 per contract?

  • it ensures you don’t get penalised for not rolling the hardest contracts and getting rewarded less as a result

  • It encourages player agency where players can make a trade off between easier or harder contracts to maximise the time they have based on time and priorities, either to get easy ones done as quick as possible to get their Aquilas in a limited time or to take harder ones to get more of Melks tokens over all.

Its not an massive overhaul that ‘fixes’ all the issues people could possibly have with the cash shop, I just explained why quick solutions for those problems wont work. The point is its simple and hits the important points without demanding massive changes.

Justifies the Aquilas existence.
In my assessment this is the most serious and damaging problem with the cash shop currently, because its true the Aquila serves no real purpose which lends truth to what ever reason people decide is the reason why, especially with no clear statements on Fatsharks plans for Aquilas to provide clarity.

By making Aquilas earnable in limited weekly quantities you make an equivalence between their value and the value of peoples time, without sacrificing its premium nature. In doing this you disassociate Aquilas from the idea that they only exist to disassociate you from your money as they now also attribute that monetary value to the time you spend.

Respects the players time and agency.
The problem with live service models is they demand a players time through engagement, but also their money to finance continued development on top of any other bottom lines. The problem is that people have finite time, and their money comes from spending that time not playing. Live services struggle because they don’t recognise the link between a players time and money, and demand too much of both. Making players time worth something does two things;

  • Encourages player retention - By valuing the time your players spend you are encouraging them to spend more time engaging with the game, because it shows a respect for their time and rewards them for doing so.

  • Makes buying premium cosmetics more attractive - Players will inevitably acquire some quantity of Aquilas just through casual play, this encourages engagement with the store to see what it can get, which in turn encourages purchases of Aquilas to make up the difference. Same mentality as the remainder from mismatched Aquila pack quantities, but where that comes across as a scam attempting to exploit a previous purchase this is instead effectively a discount for playing the game. This makes all the difference.

Destigmatises the cash shop.
The cash shop does have a stigma attached to it for a fair portion of the community as a result of the whole thing. There are people who will post about it and people who will comment about it, because they feel strongly about it and hold grudges.

The problem is that this can be reflected in game: despite not really engaging with the drama as it unfolded online I still engaged with players in game who kindly accosted me for buying cosmetics and accused me of heresy! This was funny because they obviously didn’t know the recoloured docket cosmetics existed, but people wont really feel good about a purchase if its just going to attract preachers and zealots.

By allowing for players to obtain some premium cosmetics through regular play, it normalises the cosmetics and interaction with the cash shop as just another facet of the game which lets anyone get something to differentiate their character, but still allows those with the means and desire to spend on fast fashion as new outfits come out.

It compliments the current business plan instead of undermines it.
Lets put it bluntly, this would encourage player engagement and interaction with the cash shop far better and far more agreeably than the current mechanisms designed to do so.

Whether the person grinds out the maximum free Aquilas they can or just casually takes what they can get for their time, you are ultimately trading a premium cosmetic to compensate the retention of a players engagement over the equivalent of a month of play. As a live service model multiplayer game, the way I see it that kind of deal is well worth making.

Any potential lost sales should be covered by smaller purchases from people looking to balance the management of their time and money, mostly from people who wouldn’t have bothered with the cash shop anyway and in a way that makes people more willing to regularly and casually engage with it.

Its simple.

I think that for such a simple suggestion it could do a lot of good at a time when the games community could use a little pick-me-up to massage over the whole cash shop debacle. Right the footing now so we can focus on enjoying the game going forward, because its a fun game with a lot of potential and id rather not see it tripped up on the starting line

Did I write too much to suggest something so simple? Always. I wish I could write this much, this quickly for the reports I’m actually supposed to write but sometimes I like to just lay it all out there, its almost therapeutic. No harm in it at least, and maybe the idea does end up doing some good.


In true 40k fashion, the penance must be extreme. Nothing less than the full removal of MTX.

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While I will condemn the premium shop and its implementation until the end of days, I understand it is not liable to disappear - not unless the game is beaten to such a bloody pulp that it wouldn’t survive without a PR move like that.

While I feel it’s a begrudging compromise for both sides, I know that being able to earn aquilas in-game would be a better system than we have now. That goes double for the fact that it was once said we’d be able to earn premium currency through gameplay.

While I hope this backlash teaches Fatshark a lesson - and leaves one Hell of a scar where they learned it - I’m in support of this post’s suggestions.


The overall impression the game has left on launch is that no one got what they paid for and the developers are constantly demanding more money for every extra inch.
It’s just not a good look.
Once the game actually becomes feature complete and fleshed out, and the MTX shop is somehow tweaked to become less predatory, I think this game will see success.
I currently have more friends who have DT on their wishlists as people who actually bought it, just because the reviews are turning them away for the price.


200 per week would work well for everyone. It’ll foster good will with the community and it won’t really affect cosmetic sales as the big packages would still take a quarter of a year to save up for. It’d also encourage people to interact with the store and the whole premium currency system far more.

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While I certainly respect the principle, the backlash against Darktide isnt going to reverse the new standard in the games industry where MTX are a planned and expected part of most games life-cycle with the understanding that it only sells cosmetics and is not pay to win. Even for tide games a MTX cosmetic shop isnt anything new.

I get the principle but I really wish if people were going to try and kill a game to make an example, they would have done it earlier with a more soulless AAA game like some of the annual stuff EA and Ubisoft crap out. A personal bias because this is a great 40k game perhaps, but i stand by it.

That’s what I’m hoping for. Its nowhere near as bad of a launch as CP2077 or No Mans Sky, and Darktides core gameplay and aesthetics should definitely be enough to see it live long enough to see a similar redemption, the problem is that kind or recovery comes too late to make amends with some people and the bad reputation from launch still sticks.

A quick and impactful response to show they still have good intentions wont fix everything and make it feature complete, but its better than just saying ‘we’re listening’ while working on bigger solutions because trust in that statement has been wasted by AAA publishers who never planned to do anything and people wont wait on it.

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Already happened, EA got so greedy governments sat up and took notice. That was the start of the death of the lootbox mechanics and now games have moved onto the Battle Pass system.

The idea is quite nice and would certainly be a sign of goodwill, but it does not solve the problems of this game. Currently there is very little content that is achievabel by playing the game. Be it weapon skins (blue/red) or recolors, which are not even available for all, visually very similar, achievable skins and are mostly only available in very unsaturated gray/blue/green tones or other small appendages. Everything that stands out even slightly is exclusively in the store. Of course, you could also buy something with Aquilas you’ve earned by playing the game… but honestly, I don’t play a game to earn a currency with which I can get stuff that others can just buy for real money… that would be a nice addition, but doesn’t replace the missing content in the 40€ priced game. What the base game currently has to offer is just a joke, apart from the fact that the mechanics make what is currently available just a frustrating RNG gamble, be it weapons or waiting for maps you’d like to play. And when people come and say “But you have 200h in the game, it can’t be that bad, it can’t have that little content!” - IT CAN! Almost 120h were pure character leveling for me to even create the basis to start with the game. For me, that was just a means to an end, which was also just exhausting after Char 1 and maybe 2. All that only to realize that the game offers nothing more. That’s why I find it an impertinence that this store is still implemented in the game as it is and is the only feature with continuously available new content… and even Recolors of the existing weapons, were not even brought into the game, but are also ONLY in the store. The longer I write this text the more I actually get upset with myself for spending money on a game which only purpose at the moment is to spend even more money. And I thought Ark would have been a disaster with DLCs in the Early Access phase, but what FatShark delivers here is not one bit better. So, enough venting. :triumph:

Honestly, I don’t see anything short of the Final Fantasy 14 treatment doing that and we know that isn’t happening.