Destiny is a game that's all about social connectivity. It's about coming together with your friends and blasting apart Fallen, Vex, Hive, Cabal, and other Guardians.
Bungie, the people behind the Halo franchise, has a long and storied history of embracing their fans and listening to their every need. Unfortunately, the team I once revered is testing my loyalty, and it's truly a shame.
Bungie is releasing its biggest DLC, The Taken King, this September. Officially announced at E3, the latest content will feature Oryx, the father of Crota, seeking revenge on the guardians who killed his son. The Taken King will feature a new raid, strikes, story missions, subclasses, Crucible maps, and a (sort-of) new enemy type, and it's all yours for a $40.
Pointing out the obvious, the price-point is double what each of the first two pieces of DLC content, The Dark Below and House of Wolves, retailed for. Fans weren't happy about it, but many, including myself, were willing to listen to what was going to be included in the big September release. Surely, Bungie was going to take care of its fan-base like it always has…right?
The answer seems to be an astounding no. As a player who's been invested in Destiny since it's launch last September, I am extremely disappointed with how the company is handling the release of The Taken King. There are several tiers in how to acquire the new content: First, you can digitally pick it up for $40, or, if you're new to the Destiny-verse, you can grab a copy for $60 which includes the vanilla version and all of the DLC including Dark Below, House of Wolves, and Taken King. Lastly, and this is the real kicker, Bungie also announced a collectors edition which features everything in the $60 version, including artwork, shaders, exotic gear, and emotes for your guardian.
Here's where things get hairy.
A Difficult Exchange
During E3, there was an embarrassing interview with Bungie creative director Luke Smith and Eurogamer, where Smith got into a back and forth tiff over the $80 Collector's edition and how Destiny year-one players wouldn't be able to access the exotic content, emotes, etc. unless they shelled out the extra cash on content they already own. What was most upsetting about the conversation was when Smith said we would "throw money at the screen" when we saw the emotes. I've been playing Destiny from the start, and charging me for an in-game dance move is not what I would "throw my money" at. I want meaningful content that will allow me to continue building up my guardian, while exploring new zones.
Wednesday morning rolls around, and we awake to the news that Bungie entered into a partnership with Red Bull. It's all tied to the upcoming release of The Taken King, where players who purchase specially marked cans of the atrocious product can pick up a code that grants them a 30-minute XP bonus, as well as early access to a new questline. Not only are we having even more content locked out, we now have to purchase an energy drink, which may actually be slowly killing you, in order to fully experience the Taken King.
All Bungie had to do was come out and say "hey guys, we messed up, here's how we're fixing this."
In the first of a two-part weekly update Wednesday evening, Bungie community manager DeeJ gave his two-cents on the recent complaints, and admitted, they may have messed up. There was even a written apology from Smith about his blunder of an interview.
OK. Kind words. We're all forgiving creatures. But Bungie adds fuel to fire by announcing that as an apology, the digital content everyone was upset about missing out on will be released for $20.
They just don't get it, do they?
Just to review: The Taken King is announced, and it costs $40. The Collector's edition of the game retails for $80 and has extra content the year-one Destiny players won't be able to get unless they drop down the additional cash for stuff they already have. Then, Bungie announces a timed-release questline that you can only access by purchasing the sewage water that is Red Bull. In a misguided, apologetic turnaround, they then offer the missing content for $20.
In summary: That means if you want all The Taken King has to offer, you need to drop a minimum of $60 come launch day, plus the $2 for the Red Bull can…but who's counting?
I'm not one of these Destiny haters. Really, I'm not. I LOVE the game. The controls are great, and hunting for loot can be addicting. However, I am not seeing the consistency from Bungie. The Dark Below gave us an entertaining raid in Crota's End, but the new story missions fell flat by forcing players to re-tread through content we've already experienced. Not only that, it's painfully obvious the areas that were considered new are actually locations that were seemingly blocked off in the launch release. House of Wolves is no saint either. From the Rasputin mission to Wolves' "Ruling House," it's all content that miraculously opens up after downloading the new expansions.
It's becoming increasingly difficult to trust Bungie because they're giving us morsels while continuously asking for more than it's worth. Frankly, it's looking more like either Bungie, or Activision, believes we will pay for any premium they release without question.
I know the content for The Taken King has yet to fully be revealed, but a $40 price-point is already a tough sell, and we've already been trained as consumers to put a dollar amount on certain content. $60 buys us four planets (really, three-and-a-half), 30 levels, a raid, five strikes, crucible maps, and an underwhelming story. $20 buys us a raid, five story missions, Crucible maps, and new gear.
We know what our dollar should be getting us, and right now, the money isn't adding up.
There are several defenses, of course, to what's going on with Destiny. The most common seems to be what I call the "World of Warcraft" defense. It basically states that since WoW charged a monthly subscription, Bungie can do what it likes … but this argument is null. Destiny isn't WoW. Anyone who owns a console is already paying a yearly subscription for Xbox Live or PS Plus, and I know they do not want to pay for an additional monthly subscription for a single game, nor should they.
The second is the "Arkham DLC" defense. For those who recall, WB Games announced the new Arkham Knight was going to feature a $40 DLC season pass. However, this argument is also null because the Arkham content doesn't handcuff players from enjoying the original game. For each piece of content Destiny puts out, players are essentially given the option to either buy in, or be left out of the fun. The Arkham DLC is supplemental, meaning players won't be restricted from enjoying the full narrative of Batman's story.
Lastly, there's the "you can't put a price tag on fun" defense, and I simply have to concede to this point. It's true, how do you put a price tag on what is fun in a video game? It's a difficult question to answer, and this is what every Destiny player will have to address ahead of The Taken King's release. For me, it isn't a question of putting a dollar amount on fun. I value a complete experience and refuse to be subject to price-gouging and chasing the dragon that is new DLC expansions. Many companies have similar approaches to DLC releases, but sometimes, you have to let your wallet speak its mind.
No one inherently wants a video game to be bad. Who knows, maybe Bungie's 2nd part of its weekly update will sway me back into supporting Destiny again. I just feel too betrayed, too cautious, to continue supporting a game that changes every three months and still finds a way to disappoint me. It's like being a kid in a messy divorce. You secretly want Mom and Dad to get along again, but you know deep inside you're going to have to grow-up and take responsibility. In this case, I need to take a step back, evaluate how much fun I'm having with Destiny, and determine whether I should let my $40 go toward another experience.
Until then … Guardians Out.