- Microtransactions in Disney Dreamlight Valley aren’t perfect, particularly the high cost of side quests and the advantage premium players have in photo contests.
- Some previous concerns, such as characters not being free, did not come true. However, they find it odd that certain characters are only available in the Expansion Pass.
In 2022, we saw the early access launch of Disney Dreamlight Valley. An Animal Crossing-style farming simulator with tons of Disney characters as village residents. I ate it up, as did countless other players. But I had some criticisms of the microtransactions just a few months back. To summarise: I was okay with some of the ideas, while plenty crossed a line, and a major fear gripped me over where they’d be going next.
The thing is, the ones I was OK with had the excuse that the full release of the game would be free-to-play. But, early access will be over on December 5th, and the $30 price tag doesn’t leave after all. This removes a few excuses, but changes to the microtransactions also happened. Some of them before the full release announcement, but still after my original article.
And now the experience is less like a nightmare, and more of a fever dream.
Ariel, Ursuland, And Sea
The original breaking point that made me write about the microtransactions was something called “Dapper WALL-E”, an exclusive string of side quests where for 4,000 Moonstones, you could end up with some new clothes for your playable avatar and fan-favorite Disney Villager WALL-E. Another string of side quests has popped up on the market now, this one called “Ursula’s Transformation,” where you’ll unlock Ursula’s Vanessa disguise she used near the end of The Little Mermaid.
It’s also 4,000 Moonstones, but the kicker is that since Ursula will walk on land instead of swimming, this expensive side quest conveniently fixes a long-standing fan complaint. Ursula and Ariel dive underwater and teleport to different ponds, which is a pain if you’re trying to chat with them. But Ariel has a human form you unlock by finishing her, Ursula, and Eric’s friendship quests, rendering her no different from the other Villagers in terms of finding where she is. And now Ursula gets that makeover, but not out of friendly love, out of cold hard cash.
And for the record, you can’t buy just 4,000 Moonstones in the marketplace. There’s an option for 2,500 and an option for 5,500: pick your poison! This means conversion is a bit rough, but basically, the side quest costs around $15. It was absurd for Dapper WALL-E, and it’s insulting that Ursula’s Transformation likely only exists due to fan outcry.
Dreamsnapping The Perfect Moment
Dreamsnaps was announced back in July [when?] to a great fan reception. I also loved the concept; from now on, every two weeks or so, there’s a photo contest where you can take pictures based on specific ideas. Follow the rules and submit your photo for the chance to win a good deal of Moonstones for completely free.
On top of that, just voting on the photos will also earn you free Moonstones! It gives a reason for the photo mode to exist outside story missions, and offers rewards for people just not good enough to take the greatest photos too. What could go wrong?
Well, technically nothing went wrong, but cracks in the armor showed themselves quickly. In reality, players who shell out the cash for premium items have an advantage, often because they spend Moonstones to fast-track before the clock runs out. This isn’t always true as a premium player could still take a lousy picture, but let’s face it, the real gimmick here is to win a few Moonstones thanks to your premium items, which will convince you to buy more premium items.
And those premium items are spendy. Taking this week’s premium shop just as examples; a skin for your home for 3,750 Moonstones, a skin for your Royal Tools for 3,750, one pillar for 1,000, and a special pet for 2,000. Those side quests suddenly don’t seem as bad against those numbers, quite frankly, as at least you get more than your shovel looking like a skeleton or an orange turtle.
As for voting, it turns out you only get as many as 50 Moonstones after voting on several pictures. That’s also the number of Moonstones you get from the daily blue chests scattered throughout the valley. I’m not asking for much here when I say that 100 or so Moonstones would have been a much better incentive, and that 50 is just low enough that I instantly stopped caring. Why wait a week or more to do something that only earns me as many Moonstones as the daily activity does?
Expansions In The Great Wide Somewhere
Now, not all my initial fears came true. I ended my previous article on Dreamlight Valley’s microtransactions by warning that, eventually, characters would stop always being free. I even warned that Belle from Beauty & The Beast seemed like the most likely previously announced character they’d try that with. But to my pleasant surprise, both Belle and the Beast were free! And on top of that, new characters that aren’t free will not be bought with Moonstones. There’s an Expansion Pass system coming in December, and one of the perks of the Pass is access to exclusive characters.
Okay, Expansion Passes are fairly normal for me, and even if the game won’t be free-to-play, I don’t mind the Expansion Pass after seeing what it promised: a new Valley to explore, a new Royal Tool, the next storyline where Aladdin’s Jafar will be the villain, and extra characters. Yes, extra characters, as some characters, like the announced Jack Skellington, will still be free for anyone who doesn’t buy the Pass.
I think that’s completely fair. So I wish I could say I had no problems, but one thing bothered me even here.
I said Belle and Beast were free, but the villain of Beauty & The Beast, Gaston, is only in the Expansion Pass. Same for Rapunzel, even though Tangled’s villain Mother Gothel has been in the game for a while. Same with EVE, the love interest of the aforementioned WALL-E.
It’s just… weird. Why isn’t Jack Skellington, who isn’t connected to other Villagers, an Expansion Pass exclusive instead? Why put characters from the same franchise on either side of the Expansion Pass divide? I ask as if I don’t know. It’s just a further incentive. It’s so you feel bad when WALL-E mentions EVE, and you didn’t put up the cash to buy her. It stinks, especially since I think the Expansion Pass sells itself pretty well without this underhanded trick.
The monetization of the game now isn’t exactly horrid, but still a bit too underhanded. I don’t understand the prices of the premium shop items or the exclusive quests. I want to like the Dreamsnaps contests. I mostly like the Expansion Pass, and I’m glad some characters will still be free. I won’t stop playing, and I will likely buy the Expansion Pass as I loved the previous storyline and want to fight Jafar so badly.
It’s just, odd. Not good, but perhaps not awful. Just odd.
- August 23, 2022
- PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S
- Life Simulation
- E For Everyone