Coming off a successful week at E3, Bungie, the creators of “Halo” and “Destiny,” is facing a PR disaster after one of the game’s creative directors defended the price tag of the new “Destiny” expansion coming this fall, called “The Taken King.”
The interview between Luke Smith, Bungie’s creative director on “The Taken King,” and Eurogamer’s Tom Phillips, was an absolute disaster — and “Destiny” fans are incensed.
For background, Bungie is selling “The Taken King” in four different packages when it arrives in September.
- The $US40 digital download, which includes “The Taken King.”
- The $US60 “Legendary Edition” includes the original game and first two expansions, plus “The Taken King”; this is the package you’ll want if you’re new to the series.
- The $US80 “Collector’s Edition” includes the original game and first two expansions, plus “The Taken King,” a steelbook with personal notes, illustrations, and artifacts, three class items that give your character experience bonuses when worn, three armour shaders, and three class-specific “emotes,” which could be either gestures or dance moves.
- The $US80 “Digital Collector’s Edition” includes the original game and first two expansions, plus “The Taken King,” the three class items that offer bonus experience, three armour shaders, and three class-specific “emotes.”
Longtime players are taking issue with the $US80 Collector’s Editions, which offer content only hardcore fans will really care about (emotes, in particular), but also require the purchase (or repurchase) of the original game and first two expansions. Also, the digital and physical Collector’s Editions cost the same amount of money, despite the disparity in offerings.
Considering many Day 1 players paid $US90 to own “Destiny” and the first two expansions last year, fans are upset at the $US80 price point, which, to many, feels exorbitant, especially since it forces you to buy all that original content again. So when Eurogamer sat down with Luke Smith, creative director on “The Taken King,” to talk about pricing, fans were hoping Smith would offer some explanations for these moves.
The interview didn’t go so well. The whole thing is really worth a read, but check out this particular exchange:
Eurogamer: I get that [‘The Taken King’] is big but it is also the same price as the base game. That had four areas rather than one and more missions than the Taken King. Why is it the same price?
Luke Smith: All I can do is answer that with the same thing I just gave you… We’re really comfortable with the value we’re giving to players this autumn. I believe that once we begin to share more, players will be even more excited. And for existing players it also comes with the Founder’s pack with a new Sparrow, shader and emblem.
Eurogamer: Just not the emotes.
Luke Smith: It doesn’t because they come with the Collector’s Edition.
Eurogamer: Final question on prices –
Luke Smith: Is it also the final question on the emotes?
Eurogamer: I’m not going to mention them again. I can’t get them.
Luke Smith: But you can if you buy the Collector’s Edition.
Eurogamer: I’m not going to buy the game and the two DLCs all over again.
Luke Smith: OK, but first I want to poke at you on this a little bit.
Eurogamer: Poke at me?
Luke Smith: You’re feeling anxious because you want this exclusive content but you don’t know yet how much you want it. The notion of spending this money is making you anxious, I can see it –
Eurogamer: I do want them. I would buy them –
Luke Smith: If I fired up a video right now and showed you the emotes you would throw money at the screen.
Eurogamer: What I’m saying is that fan frustration is not because they don’t understand the proposition. It comes regardless of how cool the exclusive content is. The frustration – and mine as a fan – is that the method of acquiring it requires me to re-buy content I bought a year ago.
Luke Smith: [Long pause] It’s about value. The player’s assessment of the value of the content.
Smith continues on, citing the “temporal valuation of content” as a reason why the first two expansions are significantly cheaper than “The Taken King.” But by that point, the damage was done.
Late Monday night, “Destiny” fans took to Bungie’s forums and Reddit to express their disappointment and their disgust.
Some fans are also organising a boycott on July 7 as a means of making a statement to Bungie. Here’s what the organiser said:
This doesn’t just insult you and I as regular players, but it spits on all of the hard work of everyone who made awesome community tools to fill in the gaps of Bungie’s otherwise 6.5/10 game. Things like LFG sites that were made to compensate for the lack of matchmaking; like DestinyPublicEvents or Destiny Item Manager; like Destiny Ghost Hunter or sites that give you a better look at the Grimoire so that you have even the slightest clue as to what story actually exists in this game. The list can go on. We as a community put a lot of time and effort into making this game more than we were given. And don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic people at Bungie working their hardest to constantly improve the game, to listen to us and implement as much feedback as they can, to give use the tools needed to build everything I just mentioned. I get that. I’m hugely grateful for them, too.
However, we can’t let an attitude like Luke Smith’s dictate the future of this game without being contested. We shouldn’t, anyways. We didn’t just play this game; we invested in their community. We invested our time and talents to enrich the experience for each other in ways the game itself couldn’t. Yet now we’re being treated like we’re nothing more than a pile of wallets? I get that they’re a business, but you don’t build a strong base for a game that’s supposed to last 10 years by ostracizing and insulting your existing player-base.
Bungie is going into full-on crisis mode at the moment, with the company’s community manager David “DeeJ” Dague posting on Reddit and Bungie’s official forum, explaining that the company plans to discuss how Day 1 players will be recognised later this year.
Hey, there. First day back from E3, so I’m catching up on a lot of conversation about The Taken King. Please know that we’re reading this feedback and taking it as seriously – as we always do. Destiny is a great game because we worked together to make it that way over the course of the past year. That partnership has not changed.
I understand that you want me to go on record right now with something that will address the disappointment that’s being expressed here. I’m going to differ to the Bungie Weekly Update, in which we’ll talk more about the things we’re doing to celebrate the year-one Guardians who helped us build this community. I’ll also revisit our goals in offering different versions of The Taken King. Ever heard the old adage about trying to please everyone?
We’ve reached out to Bungie and its parent company Activision, and we’ll update this story when we learn more.