In Defense of Destiny


Destiny The Taken King logo
 
Destiny is no stranger to controversy. Since day one nearly every major games journalism website has featured an article on the first page, or somewhere close to it, ripping apart some aspect of Destiny. Bungie’s foray into current gen consoles has been polarizing to almost every degree. I can respect the arguments about lack of content, missing story, and pretty much anything else you want to complain about. However, the most recent “fiasco” (read: scandal) is absolutely absurd! What is it about Destiny that makes it unacceptable to do what many other games have been doing for nearly a decade?
 
First and foremost, what is Destiny? Well, that’s sort of a hard question to answer. Destiny borrows some of the best, and worst, features from many different genres in order to create it’s unique experience. It’s separated into open world exploration and instanced dungeon crawling. It features randomized events, enemies, and rewards. There’s character development and growth in the form of skill/ability trees. There’s even a load of lore hidden within the world, should you wish to look for it. Oh, and it’s made by the creators of Halo, so it’s a First Person Shooter(and a really good one at that). So, Destiny is a FPS that has Roguelike elements set to an MMO structure. While Roguelike-MMO-FPS is certainly the most fitting genre title, it’s also the first of it’s ilk. It borrows elements from Diablo, World of WarCraft, and obviously Halo, to create a unique experience.
 
destiny ttk classes
 
Of the 3 genres listed, MMO should be the one the stands out the most. MMOs typically run on a pay to play structure. Paying the base cost get’s you in, and paying a monthly rate lets you keep coming back. The monthly rate typically runs from $10-$15 per month. That monthly fee is then used to further develop content for the game to keep players coming back for more. Every couple months an MMO will typically open access to a new dungeon, quest line, or event at no additional cost to the players. However, the players tend to forget they they’re currently paying a monthly rate just to play the game. It’s an endless cycle of content that keeps users paying for content so keep returning to the game and keep those subscriptions running.
 
This is a standard practice that’s been in effect since at least 2004 when World of WarCraft was released. In its first year there were 7 content updates to the WoW. Dungeons, world bosses, even PvP modes and reward structures were all added within the first 12 months at no additional cost. Well, except for that pesky monthly fee. Assuming you’re paying month to month, that’s a total of $180, excluding the cost of the base game, just to play World of WarCraft. That’s $180 paid to the developers for 7 content updates. That breaks down to nearly $26 for an update as minor as a single mid level dungeon. I don’t understand how this is acceptable for games like World of WarCraft and FInal Fantasy XIV, but not for Destiny. Somehow, Bungie has committed a horrible crime against gaming by charging a total of $80 for additional, optional, content in its first year. However, a game that requires players to pay more than 3 times it’s base cost for additional content is completely acceptable.
 
Destiny quest hud
 
At this point you’d be correct in deducing that I have no issue with the price of Destiny’s next expansion, The Taken King. I feel like the 3 different price points are completely fair, and give players of all walks a proper opportunity to jump into a game beloved by millions already. To give a little context to the situation here’s the pricing breakdown:
 

  • The Taken King (Standalone, Digital Only – Must own The Dark Below and House of Wolves in order to purchase) $40
  • Destiny: The Taken King (Retail copy, includes Destiny, The Dark Below, House of Wolves, and The Taken King) $60
  • Destiny: The Taken King Collector’s Edition (Retail and Digital, Includes all above and exclusive digital and physical content) $80
  • Bungie also recently added a “Collector’s Edition Upgrade”, in response to the outcry about the pricing. The upgrade includes all digital content included in The Taken King Collector’s Edition for an additional $20. This is for purchasers of the digital copy of The Taken King only.

 
Taken King Collector's Edition
 
You’d think, after reading the pricing, that the issue flooding the community lies with the incredibly low price tag for the retail copy of Destiny: The Taken King. In reality, the primary complaint is with the collector’s edition. As stated above the collector’s edition comes with physical and digital bonus items. The physical items are your typical collector’s edition faire – steelbook case, replica items, art book, etc. The digital content, coupled with the “need” to repurchase Destiny and the first two expansions to get those items, is what really set the community into a frenzy. Bungie’s response to purchase the digital content separately for $20 wasn’t met very favorably either.
 
It appears as if some of the community feels that in order to get the “full experience” of Destiny: The Taken King they need the items included in the collector’s edition. That’s NEED, as in “require because it is essential.” What could possibly be included in with the collector’s edition that’s so important that it’s been deemed essential by the playerbase, yet not so essential that being offered the opportunity to pay $20 for these items is equally as insulting? Hold on to your butts.
 
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I hope you’re ready for this. This drama, and the reason Destiny has been dominating the headlines recently, is over 9 cosmetic items: 3 Shaders, 3 Emotes, and 3 Class items which provide a bonus to experience gain. While the experience bonus seems like it tips the argument in favor of the complaints, for someone to think that without these items the entirety of the experience that is Destiny: The Taken King falls apart, is ridiculous. Bungie has made multiple statements to refute the “need” to purchase the collector’s edition solely for these items. Bungie has stated that those items may be unique in appearance, but they are not so in function. In fact, with the release of The Taken King class items, an otherwise cosmetic only item, will be changing entirely. Some will provide stat bonuses, others bonuses to experience gain, and all of them far more powerful than those obtained with the collector’s edition. Secondly, all owners of at least Destiny, the base game, can qualify to receive Year One exclusive items, such as (but not limited to): An Emblem(cosmetic), Sparrow(useful), Shader(cosmetic), AND MORE. The “And More” part has yet to be elaborated upon, but knowing Bungie, it should be some pretty cool stuff.
 
All of the items in the collector’s edition are 100% optional.They are, like any collector’s edition content, just cool enough to make someone who owns them feel good about spending extra money. As with the Ghost Edition of the base game, or the GameStop pre-order exclusive digital content for any game, these items will not make much of a difference to the overall experience. It’s just a way to for a developer/publisher to make a little extra cash while providing the players with an optional level of “exclusivity.” Feeling like you having something nobody else has usually costs extra, and this is no different.
 
Arc Warlock Stormcaller
 
The whole incident boils down to a simple matter of desire vs. practicality. While having exclusive content that few others will have sounds good, is it worth the asking price double the rate of the actual content? Rather than simply come up with the answer “no,” the community accused Bungie and Activision of forcing them to re-purchase something they have in order to get something they’ve deemed essential. While this is technically true, it’s also a matter of perspective mixed with your level of desire.
 
Considering that it’s standard practice for collector’s editions to run double the rate of the base game, then $40 more is actually quite reasonable. Even if it comes with content you might already own, it’s still a fair price at double the rate of the stand alone content solely based on collectors edition standard. If that’s still not good enough, then now you can purchase the Digital Collector’s Edition Upgrade for $20, which is the difference between the retail copy and the collector’s edition. Again, it’s a fair price based on the pricing of the original offerings. Lastly, if we take an MMO perspective (I told you the MMO part was important) then you’ll want to look at the cost of the DLC’s over a “monthly rate structure.” Without The Taken King Collector’s Edition the total cost is $6.67/month for all 3 expansions. With the collector’s edition it’ll cost $10/month. Both of those are on the very low end when it comes to monthly rates for MMO’s, which again makes this a fair pricing model.
 
Destiny Nightstalker Hunter
 
If the ideal way to look at the pricing of Destiny, and it’s expansions, is based on an MMO pay-as-you-play structure, then why didn’t Bungie just charge a monthly rate to play Destiny? Well that’s simple, it’s the same reason Bungie refuses to refer to Destiny as an MMO. There’s a stigma associated with the term MMO and monthly fees. To avoid the dirty looks in the locker room, Bungie and Activision instead released the game under the guise of a standard, pay once game, and hid the monthly fees in the optional downloadable content. By calling the DLC “Expansions” as opposed to something like “Add-On” or even “DLC” they made the content updates feel significant, and damned near essential to the future of the experience. It’s all mind trickery to keep you from realizing that you’re actually paying the equivalent of an MMO monthly fee for content updates. Albeit a very inexpensive MMO, which is again fair based on the amount of content offered when compared to most other MMO games.
 
With the perspective side hopefully cleared up a bit, it then falls to desire. How much do you really want these items? If you have a problem with any of the options provided, then that means you don’t really want the content that bad. If you have a problem with the price, then don’t spend your money and the developers/publishers will be forced to make a change. This is one of the instances where complaining that something you want is unobtainable was the wrong way to go about getting what you want. All you did was create a demand, which was answered with a supply at a reasonable asking price based on the level of demand. If you think it’s priced too high, then maybe you shouldn’t have made it seem like you absolutely need the optional items in question.
 
Solar Titan Sunbreaker
 
I’ve had no problem spending $80 on my preordered copy of Destiny: The Taken King Collector’s Edition, just as I had no problem dropping $150 on the Ghost Edition last year. The prices are fair, and we all know we’re going to spend way too much time playing the game. If you have a problem, then say it with your money, not with barbaric language better left on the battlefield. If you’ve been making threats to quit, and still feel like it’s the best option, then maybe you should. Chances are Bungie and Activision are going to just continue to make decisions that you’ll disagree with, and it would be nice if those of us that enjoy the game can continue to do so without your negativity.
 
Be sure to sound off with your thoughts about the pricing fiasco, and anything else concerning Destiny, in the comments below!

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