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Destiny has had a pretty turbulent first year on the market, specifically in the area of its downloadable content and the price tag attached to it. Up to this point, I’ve done my best to give the teams at Bungie and Activision the benefit of the doubt that decisions were not being driven solely by the desire to make a quick buck. With this latest DLC fiasco, though, I find myself firmly planted in the opposite corner.
When it was originally revealed that Destiny’s first two DLC packs, The Dark Below and The House of Wolves, were going to cost $20 a pop, I had very little problem with that price point. I still don’t, actually. And while I absolutely hate comparing cost to the “amount of content,” this particular discussion warrants it.
For most shooters, I think it’s fair to say that a DLC pack will set you back about $15 for four multiplayer maps. Using that as a baseline, I have a hard time understanding why $20 for Destiny’s DLC was so poorly received. I consider The Dark Below to be the weaker of the two, but even that pack included three multiplayer maps, a handful of story missions, lots of new gear, guns and bounties to pursue, a new multiplayer Strike or two, some dynamic events, as well as a six-person Raid. All told, that seems like a pretty reasonable amount of content to make up for those five dollars above the established norm.
With The Taken King, Destiny’s first “major update,” I’m having a bit more trouble swallowing the $40 pill. But, again, I’m going to give the folks at Bungie the benefit of the doubt until a full list of content is made available. We know that there will be a bunch of new story missions, a new Raid, new Strikes, new gear, a new sub-class for each type of Guardian to work through, as well as those new multiplayer maps, a pair of new multiplayer modes and a brand new area to explore. Oh, and there’s even a little extra content if you’re willing to chug some Red Bull.
At this point, Bungie remains adamant that fans should hold off judgment, as there are more announcements to come before the Taken King update arrives on Sept. 15. My problem here is that the math doesn’t add up once we get to figures as high as $40 for DLC. At that point, I’m no longer thinking “Okay, this sounds like twice as much content as their normal DLC packs, so doubling the price tag makes sense, too.” What I’m actually thinking is, “Okay, $40 is two-thirds the cost of the full game, but what we’ve seen so far sounds like one-fourth of the amount of content that came on the disc.”
Again, I find these kinds of comparisons gross most of the time, but we’re not usually dealing with this much money for add-on content. I’m taking Bungie at their word that further details are inbound and will hold off on making any sort of judgment until I’ve seen the full picture.
My real issue with Destiny’s DLC began just a few days ago when I read over Eurogamer’s interview with Bungie’s Luke Smith. The conversation revolves around The Taken King price point, as well as the new Collector’s Edition that costs 80 bucks, includes all previous DLC, as well as some exclusive goodies like shaders, dance emotes, etc.
Smith makes some pretty upsetting comments, but I’ll let you just read that piece for yourself rather than regurgitating it here. Here's just one quote that stood out, though:
If I fired up a video right now and showed you the emotes you would throw money at the screen.
In short, I was left feeling like Smith and Co. are well aware of the fact that their pricing model is targeted at squeezing every dime possible out of their most dedicated customers.
Smith’s argument for folks who wanted that exclusive content, for instance, was that they simply buy the Collector’s Edition, too. In other words, for a handful of cosmetic doodads, just fork over $80 to re-buy a bunch of content you’ve already purchased. Honestly, I never understood why anyone was so upset over missing out on such insignificant extras, but Smith’s response to being told those people exist was extremely upsetting. These are your fans—the people who spend money on your game—and basically twirling your mustache and rubbing your palms together in response is disgusting.
But even that wasn’t the most upsetting part of this whole debacle for me, which will bring us full circle as to why I was going on about the cost of DLC earlier.
There was understandably a lot of outcry after Smith made an ass of himself in that interview which he has since apologized for.
As a further “apology,” the folks at Bungie apparently did a lot of soul searching and decided to make that exclusive content available to everyone…at a price. And not just any price, mind you, but $20. So, for the same price I was just defending for backing a bunch of content in The Dark Below and House of Wolves DLC packs, Bungie wants to offer you a handful of cosmetic goodies, and that’s it. What’s baffling to me is that anyone actually approved that figure and didn’t wonder if maybe (just maybe) it was an utterly ludicrous proposition that would cause even more outrage.
Even more upsetting is the fact that you’ll need to purchase The Taken King to have access to that additional $20 apology bundle. For those keeping track, that’s a grand total of $60 for The Taken King and a handful of cosmetics. That’s just $20 shy of that new special edition we were talking about earlier, which includes everything listed above, as well as the entire base game and both original DLC packs.
I would have much preferred Smith coming out and saying “Sorry for sounding like an ass” and left it at that. Special editions often have exclusive content and, so long as existing players aren’t missing out on missions or anything major, I’m all for newcomers getting some little perks of their own. But Bungie following up by offering said content at an insane price actually makes the apology worse than the offense.
You are correct if you are thinking “nobody has to buy it” and, trust me, I sure as hell won’t. My problem is that anyone would ask their fans to pay so much for so little in the first place. As a consumer, it’s insulting. Bungie always talks about the great interactions they have with the community and how they do their best to foster a strong relationship. That relationship is starting to feel abusive.