How “cosmetic” DLC became “pay to win” camouflage in some online shooters

When it comes to in-game DLC and microtransactions, developers and players often take pains to draw a bright line between purely “cosmetic” DLC—which lets users pay optional money to change their in-game appearance—and DLC that impacts competitive gameplay stats—raising the specter of the dreaded “pay-to-win” upgrade. Recently, though, purchasable outfits in some high-profile shooters have ended up giving players a distinct in-game advantage, blurring the line between cosmetic and pay-to-win items.

The latest example of this problem comes from Call of Duty: Warzone. Last year, players who purchased the Season 5 premium battle pass and reached Tier 100 in the game could earn access to an all-black “Rook” skin for the character Roze.

As you can see in the images above, that skin covers the player from head to toe in skintight black fabric, even including black facepaint around the eyes. It’s a striking “black ops” look in isolation, but during a game, it can make a player nearly invisible when they’re hiding in the abundant dark corners in many maps.

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