Published on: Nov 3, 2015 @ 19:50
When Activision speaks, it’s wise to pay attention.They recently acquired King Games, of Candy Crush, to the tune of $6.9 billion. Perhaps their elation inspired them to open up about another big investment: Destiny. Their comments today peel back the curtain ever-so-slightly, to shed a little light on their vision for paying for Destiny going forward.
The Eververse Trading Company and Destiny’s foray into microtransactions has generated a lot of buzz, hype, and skepticism from the community. Would integrating real world money spoil the Destiny experience? Would it be a dream come true for the development team?
Gaming journals like Kotaku have engaged in some healthy speculation, suggesting that income generated from selling emotes and other goodies might help fund future DLC. This idea was planted deeply in the minds of many Guardians, and there’s been considerable effort on the part of less optimistic users to dispel this notion – or at least put a damper on it.
Rather than sell big expansion packs like they did last year, Bungie is planning on giving out quests and missions for free, sources say. That means the game’s next paid expansion will be Destiny 2 in the fall of 2016. That’ll be $60.
Sure, events like Festival of the Lost are free and technically have “quests” but it’s obviously not DLC. So Eververse Trading Company will help pay keep these special activities going, but we’ll probably need to still pay the standard price for expansions.
We all know the reality: Bungie never explicitly said that microtransaction income would fund DLC. But we’d be lying if we said we weren’t hopeful that it could put a dent in the overhead, or guarantee a steady drip of content to tide us over until the next big release.
When asked about paid expansions and microtransactions going hand-in-hand, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg responded:
“I think they’re already co-existing… We had a full year of expansions to the game that have been very well received and sold quite well. More recently, you’ve seen us introduce smaller, in-game purchases that allow people to customize their experience and express themselves; those have been very well received and have sold well also. I think we’ve already shown that DLC and microtransactions can co-exist and that our community is hungry for more great content.”
Even a revealing answer still leaves a lot of questions on the table when it comes to Activision, but the trajectory of Destiny right now seems fairly clear. Hirshberg is savvy to the willingness of Destiny gamers to pay hand-over-fist for the stuff they want.
Recently, bundles of the Silver currency have topped the PSN Store’s add-on popularity, taking 4 out of the 5 top spots. This is coming on the heels of a major $40-$60 expansion, so it appears frugality is taking a backseat to sheer giddy instant gratification. Activision would be foolish to not capitalize on this for as long as they can.
This might mean we’re paying for DLC and being nagged by microtransactions for the foreseeable future, but as the community has demonstrated willingness for this business model en masse, there is only so much we can expect to change.
When an analyst followed up, pressing the issue of Activision potentially choosing between paid expansions or microtransactions, Hirshberg demurred:
“As far as any shifts in strategy, I don’t have any announcements today, but I think we have a lot of options at our disposal…And the reason for that of course is that we have such great engagement with this game.”
Things must be looking up for Activision. Having “a lot of options” is every company’s dream, and it means that Activision may have the luxury of going all-in with their pricing – for now. History has shown that if you attempt to bilk your customers for all they’re worth, you certainly risk paying for it down the line.
Upcoming AAA releases like Bethesda’s Fallout 4 are fresh in the minds of discerning gamers, and dedicating yourself to a game always comes with the inherent trade-off of ignoring another. Is Destiny at risk for this? Certainly, there are those who would say yes – but the numbers tell a different story.
Destiny has climbed all the way to the top of Twitch, has over 25 million registered players, and possesses one of the most dedicated fanbases in gaming, whose users average a staggering three hours of playtime a day. It’s safe to say that it would take a significant misstep to dissuade Guardians from picking up their controller for the daily grind.
And with so many new games coming out, it would be a shame not to play them too. There’s no problem with putting down Destiny while you enjoy a new release. The guys over at Crucible Radio talked about how taking a break can actually improve your entire experience; playing and watching other games can offer more perspectives.
What Are We Hoping For?
Well, Destiny is truly just getting started. It might be one of the biggest names in gaming, but barely into year two of its 10 year timetable, you have to imagine that Bungie and Activision have big plans for its future. There’s going to need to be a balance. It’s becoming apparent that microtransactions will be front and center in the Destiny conversation for the upcoming year, and as Bungie and Activision continue to push each new rollout of emotes and cosmetic frills, it’s an equally safe bet that this attention is going to try the patience of some of Destiny’s purists. If and when the DLC is touting the usual hefty price tags, it’s hard to argue that the atmosphere of profit will weigh more heavily than it ought to. When that happens, will Guardians turn away?
Of course, Bungie can avoid this by continuing the positive trend that’s already begun. The Festival of the Lost (ending November 9th) is an excellent example of a pleasant surprise not entirely in the vein of traditional DLC. Additional events like this, a frequent update schedule, and more clear channels of communication will solidify the trust between developers and players, and will let Destiny’s most faithful rest comfortably in the shadow of microtransactions.
Basically, the community needs to see what they are paying for. Everyone wants a good return on their investment!