Consumables for Silver? The Future of Eververse Microtransactions

Published on: Oct 13, 2015 @ 19:19

Update 1.17 brought a suite of tweaks, fixes, and belt-tightening currency adjustments, but also a fresh wave of personality in the form of new emotes. As we detailed in our brief outline of Silver pricing, these Rare emotes can be yours for the cost of 200 Silver, though the “Legendary” quality ones cost 500.

Everyone will have 400 free Silver to spend, so expect to see a bunch of your friends and enemies grieving, bowing, and slow-clapping their way through Destiny’s PvE and PvP experience. Speaking of Silver, would you want Silver to be added to the loot table for Nightfall Strikes?

FAQs

FAQs

  • Silver cannot be transferred to another account.
  • Silver is tied to console family it was purchased on.
  • Xbox 360 players can only purchase Silver in quantities of 500.
  • Most purchased items can be reclaimed via Tess Everis’ vendor screen.
  • Eververse Trading Co. items can be stored in the Vault.
  • The “Stow” option on items has a similar function to the “discard” option offered on certain items. Items that are “Stowed” can be reclaimed from Tess Everis.

Humble Beginnings

There are hints that Eververse plans on expanding its ventures to new and unexplored horizons. A cryptic “consumable items are nonreturnable” alert spells out a future goods-for-Silver service that might not be simply limited to cosmetics.

consumable items are nonreturnable

Even today, Bungie’s own database has been updated with new consumables that may be sold for Silver (but I’m not sure yet). There’s a Subclass Infusion consumable that immediately wipes out the experience grind for an unleveled subclass, and a Starter Pack which provides a Level 25 Boost, Subclass Infusion, and Telemetries.

So what do we think of this new Destiny? Well, as usual, it’s a mixed bag. Of course we would have loved to have seen Bungie dole out these emotes for free with no strings attached, whether through some sort of PvE/PvP event, or simply with no frills in a simple patch. As it stands, the 400 Silver is a thoughtful gesture for those of us who rolled the dice on the Taken King in its earliest iteration, but it’s hard to not notice the implications behind giving us a taste without the entire meal.

Your “first hit” is often free, and this appears to be the uneasy but obvious analogue to Destiny’s Silver introduction. What’s more is that you already can’t necessarily get the one thing you want. It’s no coincidence Legendary emotes are 500 Silver. It’s just out of reach of the 400 we’re given, and it’s easier for a player to rationalize trying to reach that number having already started at 400 then coming from zero. Throw in the fact that you have to spend a minimum of $5, and you’ve already drawn the pathway of instant gratification with sunk cost that susceptible players will want to follow time and again as new goodies are rolled out.

Is It That Bad?

In theory, it isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with a company openly trying to make money off of their product. This is the foundation of commerce; as Homer Simpson once said: “Money can be exchanged for goods and services.” Isn’t that what’s happening here?

TessRe-brandedEververseKiosk2

Destiny is a costly game, and Bungie’s own weekend update showed refreshing transparency in expressing their intent to move away from the Cash-for-DLC model, in lieu of titrated content infusion funded by background microtransactions. But if you ask ten Guardians how they feel about microtransactions, you might get ten different answers:

“They don’t belong in Destiny, full stop.”

“Well, I don’t mind them, just so long as it’s only cosmetics.”

“Hey, they’re fine. Let people spend their money how they want to.”

“Microtransactions are going to ruin this game like they did ___.”

Spend 15 minutes in any Destiny forum and the sparks will be flying. Even if a consensus can be reached – and indeed, it appears many players are comfortable with cosmetic-only microtransactions – it’s then difficult to find two people who agree on how much they trust Bungie to implement them. It’s easy to blame this on Bungie’s own missteps in Destiny, but to do so would be reductive to a problem that is endemic to game development as a whole. The fact is that broken, buggy messes of games continue to be released year after year, many of which prominently feature microtransactions. Shameless mobile gaming has adopted the “Freemium” model, and as such the word “microtransaction”, while technical on its face, has become a loaded pariah in the gaming community.

They’ve become emblematic of rushed products, greedy and disconnected AAA companies, and the harbinger of the death of actual gaming. Silver is probably on the tame and unambitious side compared to any number of currencies one could compare it to, but the mere fact that it’s being implemented, post-hoc, into a game for which serious money has already been paid, is is going to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many players.

Concern is Warranted

Most of the anger and cynicism is not directed at the current model, but what it could evolve into. Destiny, for better or for worse, is a game that is predicated upon its own lore. It rarely, if ever, winks at the fourth wall, and relies on a deep – if sometimes unspoken – backstory to carry the tone of the intergalactic threats that menace the Vanguard.

destiny carlton dance emoteNow, we have the Carlton. It’s hilarious, and it adds some levity and humor that can be instrumental in forging connections with other players. But at the same time, this was a request that was put forth by the community, garnered support from a very loud echo chamber, and then was implemented by Bungie. It’s becoming apparent that not only is Bungie “always listening” but that we can draw lines of causality from a prompt from outside the developers to an outcome in the game.

Most people would agree that the Carlton is amusing, and takes nothing away from the game, but what happens when a bad idea gets that much support? If Bungie learns they can sell a community’s ideas back to them for real money, no amount of principled nobility will remove the temptation to do so. Bungie is a creative, passionate developer, but they need money like anyone else.

So, there are concerns – though we want to emphasize that these can easily be avoided. For one, if Bungie needs to put extra work into devising clever and captivating cosmetic options and emotes for Silver, does this mean that they’re going to put less work into their free, in-game options? It’s only logical that whatever catches the eye most is going to cost money. There’s a reason that other games sell cosmetic options that stand out among a drab crowd: because they sell.

Drawing The Line

Where is the line going to be drawn? Bungie has gone on record with statements like…

“We’ve not announced anything on the microtransaction front but our goal is to absolutely make sure that when we deliver a game for $60 that’s a great experience no matter what type of player you are,” he said. “So we’re not looking at any pay-for-power type stuff. That’s what I hear as a player when people say they’re worried about models and schemes that nickel and dime people; we’re not going to do that.”

…and that should be reassuring. That quote leaves little room for misinterpretation, accidental or otherwise. However, what defines “power”? A week ago, we were certain Silver would just be limited to cosmetic option such as ships, shaders, and emotes. Now, the Database hints at instant, massive infusions of experience and “Starter Packs” that boost your character significantly when starting a new one. Your first Spark of Light was free, but looks like your next one might cost you; sound familiar? It must be noted here that until these items are confirmed in-game, this caution is purely speculative.

eververse microtransaction silver

Finally, how will the game bend around Silver? Already, we’re seeing drop rates for precious materials such as Strange Coins and Weapon Parts fall. Another RNG currency that facilitates Exotic re-rolls, known as Glass Needles, will be cluttering up our inventory shortly. Will we be paying for these in the future? After all, re-rolling an Exotic isn’t really giving you an edge in power; it’s just a different playstyle – and you can earn the materials in-game too! These are the type of grey area arguments that are often used to settle anxieties about microtransactions – and they’re not exactly persuasive.

Don’t Assume the Worst

Some of you may be sitting here thinking the questions above are speculative overkill, but this is exactly the point: we don’t know. We don’t know if emotes are going to be the only outlet for Silver for a while, or if we’ll be seeing an expanded Eververse stock in the next month. We don’t know if Bungie is sidelining developing new content to ensure the rollout of Silver is a smooth one, or if it’s just business as usual.

We do know that King’s Fall consumables won’t be sold for Silver!

Initial outrage over The Taken King’s cost proved that the current pricing model may simply be unsustainable. If they can hit the sweet spot, we’ll have the best of both worlds, as the monetary strain of DLC is eliminated while we can purchase extra cosmetic goodies to support the game we love.

Joel

I’m aWrySharK, your resident Exotic guru and lover of all things min/max. At PlanetDestiny, my perfectionism is no longer simply a matter of form over function.

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