Bungie’s ‘Destiny’ bundle, the bonuses, and a Red Bull blunder

taken-king2

Bungie Day was Tuesday, the day the legendary developer of Halo takes to focus on the strong community that has formed around their games.  What better way to celebrate than to discuss the rough couple of weeks Bungie has had concerning their most recent hit, Destiny.  Let’s get some things out of the way first.  Yes, people still play this game.  Sure, there are a lot of complaints about the game, but that’s because, deep down, Destiny is an awesome game.  It’s an extremely polished shooter infused with some of the best elements of an MMO, making it strikingly familiar and yet daringly different.  The reason people are so vocal about the game isn’t because it is bad.  If the game was bad, it wouldn’t be played and it would die in silence.  Instead, Destiny has near limitless potential, which makes it all the more painful when it misses the mark, or even if the way news about the game is miss-delivered.

If you haven’t heard by now, Bungie officially announced The Taken King, the massive next expansion for Destiny, during Sony’s press conference at E3.  Along with a bunch of footage, a release date, and a lot of fun stuff for fans to look forward to at the beginning of Destiny‘s second year, bundles for the DLC were announced.  This is where things got ugly.  The first bundle, the Legendary Edition, is what many are calling the “Game of the Year” edition, which includes the core game, the first two expansions, as well as the new DLC all for $60, making it a great hop on point for those new to the game.  For twenty more dollars, players can purchase the Collector’s Edition, which on top of what the Legendary Edition offers, includes a steel case for the game, some books, a Strange Coin replica, and exclusive in-game content, most notably three new emotes and three exotic class items.  Early adopters and the dedicated fan base, however, were encouraged to purchase the Digital Download of The Taken King, which is nothing but the new DLC for the fairly steep price of $40, notably double the price of each of the other two expansions.

taken-king

Though forty dollars may seem like a high price point, I am not saying it is necessarily ill-warranted.  If the new expansion manages to be two thirds of the size of the core game or even twice the size of one of the expansions, then already the price seems understandable. What doesn’t seem to make sense are the bundles.  If the DLC on its own costs $40, that means the rest of the content in the Legendary Edition (the base game, and the first two expansions) is equal to $20.  That’s a huge amount of savings, as those who already have all of this content paid a minimum of $100 for everything up until this point.  That is a massive incentive for those who haven’t bought in yet.  But is it a disservice to those who already play Destiny and have paid full price for everything?  Far worse, however, and what has yet to make any sense to anyone, is the Collector’s Edition.  Think about it.  Why would anyone who is hopping in to the game for the first time want all of this additional content, especially the books and the replica coin that are probably only valuable to hardcore Destiny fans?  Why would all of this collector’s content be marketed at new customers as opposed to existing fans, who are already rabidly collecting everything in game?  It makes far more sense to sell the Legendary Edition of Destiny at $20 or even $40 without The Taken King and to sell a Collector’s Edition of The Taken King for $60 so that existing fans can easily purchase all of the additional content while newcomers who really want all of the extra goodies can buy the new expansion while they’re at it, should they so choose.

Over the week of E3, fans spoke up, Bungie heard their cries, but the developer was already stuck between a rock and a hard place. They apologized, saying they didn’t realize fans cared so much about emotes (the thing fans made the biggest fuss about), and that they would make all of the in game content purchasable online.  But, unwilling or unable to devalue the Collector’s Edition, all of the in-game content from the CE, not including the external goodies included in the edition, was set and still is at $20.  You can imagine, this didn’t go over well.  And then it got worse.  Bungie was, of course, present at E3 and doing a number of interviews about The Taken King, but with a plan in place for when certain details would be released before the DLC went live, the developer could only say so much.  When pressed beyond the breaking point, Bungie Creative director Luke Smith answered a question in an interview with Eurogamer, “If I fired up a video right now and show you the emotes you would throw money at the screen.”  While Smith apologized and anyone familiar with his previous work knows he is a sarcastic person, this was the fuel that truly fed the outrage in and out of the Destiny community.

Since then, Bungie has done a considerable amount of backtracking.  They were quick to claim that year one players would be getting even more, even better stuff and announced the VIP Awards system, permanently exclusive rewards (so far a shader, emblem, and sparrow) for players who have beaten the original story or bought both sets of DLC.  Even more recently they revealed the Moments of Triumph challenge, which awards players an emblem for completing at least nine of the games ten largest challenges.  Presentation of information again has caused some amount of backlash, as fans are decrying all of their effort and time with the game being reduced to something as minimal as a cosmetic change.  Hopefully Bungie is beginning to realize players want significant rewards for their in game accomplishments, and more will be rewarded for their “triumphs.”

630x

Bundles and bonuses weren’t the only debacles of what are surely the worst weeks in Bungie history.  Too soon after the E3 emote controversy a Red Bull promotion went live offering an exclusive quest and an exp bonus to those who buy a can and input the code listed there.  Unfortunately, with the promotion already in development at the time of the initial interview insult, there was nothing for Bungie to do but watch these cans of chaos rain down hell (Red Bull) on already grumpy gamers’ perceptions of Destiny and the industry as a whole.  To add insult to injury, word on the street is that the Red Bull codes have already been cracked by scammers, making certain codes on cans useless.  The only consolation is that this is a timed exclusive, meaning it will be free for all eventually.

Despite Bungie Day, this has certainly not been Bungie’s day.  It’s unfair, perhaps, to point so many fingers at Bungie, especially when the infamous Activision is probably more to blame, but Bungie picked its allies and should pick more fights with its co-publisher about marketing.  But as focus shifts to the communities that have formed around Bungie’s games, I would submit to the developer that it should really take the time to consider its fans and the followers of its franchises.   These bundles, and bonuses, and promotions seem nothing shy of cheap cash grabs, and that’s not fair to those of us who actually enjoy this game and have supported it.  Sure, the second year of Destiny might be an awesome point for newcomers to hop on Bungie’s bandwagon, but Bungie should really consider the fact that it might be an even better opportunity for players to hop off.  There needs to be true incentives for players to continue to play Destiny, and emblems, shaders, and new supers aren’t going to cut it this time.  Meaningful in game content and literally game-changing rewards should be saved for the franchise-faithful rather than forcing fans to buy what they’ve already purchased again. Whether that means the VIP rewards including exclusive Exotic Bounty Chains that give year one players the opportunity to finally win that Gjally, Mythoclast, or Necrochasm I’ll leave up to you Bungie.  But I would make sure that the Traveller isn’t a metaphor for Bungie as it gets consumed by the surrounding darkness.

Scroll to Top