Destiny: Why The Players Feel Screwed Over
Last week at E3, Bungie was showing off The Taken King, the new expansion for Destiny. We saw and played a bit of the expansion while we were at at the convention; it looks pretty good. Various controversies notwithstanding, we’ll have more coverage of what we saw this week.
The pricing model for The Taken King is a bit funky. For people who currently own Destiny, it’ll cost $40 to download on its own. That’s twice the price of the first two expansions, The Dark Below and House of Wolves, which were $20 apiece. Bungie is talking a big game about how much new stuff will be in Taken King, so it’s possible—or even likely—that it’ll justify that price tag.
New players will be able to buy a “complete” version of Destiny that includes everything that came out this year—Bungie has begun calling this “all year one content.” For $60, you get the base game, both existing expansions, and The Taken King. Once again, seems more or less fair. It’s less than what we paid when we bought that stuff new, but hey, it was new when we bought it. In September, it’ll be old.
Things get hairy when you start talking about the Collector’s Edition of The Taken King. That goes for $80, double the price of the expansion. Along with a special metal case and some bonus art printouts, the Collector’s Edition comes with some exclusive digital stuff. There are a few guns that probably aren’t that good, along with “three Exotic Guardian Class items featuring XP bonuses, three class-specific emotes, and three armor shaders to customize every Guardian class.”
“Emotes,” for the uninitiated, are the moves and gestures you can have your character perform in the game. They’re purely cosmetic, and have no real effect on gameplay. At the moment, the game restricts every player to the same four emotes, which vary from character to character based on class and race. You can wave, you can point, you can sit down, and you can dance. (Dancing is hugely popular, and has practically become Destiny’s defining move.)
The problem is clear-cut: The most dedicated Destiny players have already spent $90-100 on the game and its two expansions. Come September, they were probably planning to pay $40 for the digital upgrade to The Taken King. But if they want to get those (possibly cool!) exclusive emotes and shaders, they’ll have to pay twice that and essentially “re-buy” the game they already spent this year playing. Hardly seems worth it.
On the one hand, three new emotes aren’t that huge a deal. But they also kind of are a big deal, if you’re the sort of person (raises hand) who has sunk hundreds of hours into Destiny and finds him or herself feeling unusually excited about the idea of having an exclusive, class-specific dance move or finger-guns maneuver. Many of us would gladly pay $5 or even $10 for some new emotes, but Destiny has yet to introduce those sorts of microtransactions, so the only current option is paying $80 for a bunch of stuff we already have.
That whole situation set the fuse and primed the bomb. In an E3 interview just published by Eurogamer, reporter Tom Phillips pressed The Taken King creative director Luke Smith about the issue. Smith’s response was more than enough to light the fuse.
The full interview is worth a read, but here’s the salient excerpt:
- Eurogamer: Final question on prices -
- Luke Smith: Is it also the final question on the emotes?
- Eurogamer: I’m not going to mention them again. I can’t get them.
- Luke Smith: But you can if you buy the Collector’s Edition.
- Eurogamer: I’m not going to buy the game and the two DLCs all over again.
- Luke Smith: Okay, but first I want to poke at you on this a little bit.
- Eurogamer: Poke at me?
- Luke Smith: You’re feeling anxious because you want this exclusive content but you don’t know yet how much you want it. The notion of spending this money is making you anxious, I can see it -
- Eurogamer: I do want them. I would buy them -
- Luke Smith: If I fired up a video right now and showed you the emotes you would throw money at the screen.
- Eurogamer: What I’m saying is that fan frustration is not because they don’t understand the proposition. It comes regardless of how cool the exclusive content is. The frustration - and mine as a fan - is that the method of acquiring it requires me to re-buy content I bought a year ago.
- Luke Smith: [Long pause] It’s about value. The player’s assessment of the value of the content.