A big change came to “Destiny” on Tuesday: Players can now purchase new dance moves and gestures with actual money.
Some of these items go for $US2 to $US5 a pop, but you’d need to spend about $US35 to get all 18 dance moves on sale at the newly-minted “Eververse Trading Company,” a new merchant shop in the primary “Destiny” social space.
When “Destiny” maker Bungie announced this move to microtransactions — a strategy that helps pay for the hefty cost of developing video games — it said it would only sell cosmetic things like dance moves and gestures: things that don’t directly affect how you progress in the game.
Bungie assured fans it would not create “pay-to-win” scenarios.
But “Destiny” fans found something potentially disturbing in Tuesday’s update. Bungie had quietly updated its online database with items that aren’t currently in the game, but could be sold by the Eververse Trading Company at some point in the future.
Some of these items included:
- A way to increase the likelihood for weapon and armour drops while completing the new “King’s Fall” raid, an endgame activity that requires six players
- A way to increase the experience gains from killing certain enemies for 10 minutes
- A way to fully level up your subclass instantly (like the hunter’s new Nightstalker subclass, for example)
You can look at all of these items in the “Destiny” online database. It appears as though Bungie is planning — or was planning — on selling ways for players to progress faster in the game.
Now, since players have discovered these items in the “Destiny” database, Luke Smith, Bungie’s creative director on “Destiny: The Taken King,” addressed concerns on the NeoGAF gaming forums and on Twitter. He assures players that some of those items, like the consumables that increase weapon drops in the raid, will never appear in the game, but he didn’t say all of the items on that list (like spending money to instantly level up a subclass) would never happen.
Even if Bungie never releases those items it added to the database — maybe it’s old data, or maybe this is Bungie’s form of damage control — the presence of these items nonetheless gives “Destiny” fans a good idea of how Bungie might approach or experiment with microtransactions in the future.
As we’ve written before, there are upsides to microtransactions in “Destiny.”
Bungie says it plans to use the money towards giving players more and bigger updates with exciting new experiences. And none of these items for sale — even the hidden ones added to the database — affect how people actually play the game, at least not for the game’s most loyal fans. But fans are obviously worried about a “slippery slope”: First they will sell dance moves, but then what? Special weapons? Special armour?
As Kotaku’s Jason Schreier so eloquently puts it, this issue of microtransactions comes down to trust. “Destiny” stumbled pretty badly out of the gate when it launched last year, but players stuck around. And they didn’t just play the game, they found the biggest issues with the game and offered solutions. Thankfully, Bungie listens closely to its fan communities and updates the game on a regular basis, which makes it an ever-evolving world that’s utterly captivating to be apart of.
But microtransactions have negative connotations, and the worry is that Bungie — or rather Activision, Bungie’s publisher and financier — could take advantage of players like so many mobile gaming companies that have made huge profits from a similar “pay-to-play” model. We’re hoping Bungie keeps fans in mind as it tries to balance its love for making great games with its penchant for making lots of money.
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