Ah, I miss the good ol’ days when micro-transactions were only found in free-to-play titles. Now, it seems that the big boys have taken a sniff of the pleasure of this rather controversial feature.
The latest ‘culprit’ to implement micro-transactions and paid purchases in a game you already pay plenty for is none other than Bungie. Yes, we’re talking about their much advertised Destiny, a title that never truly managed to live up to the hype it created, and constantly seeks to reengage its dormant users with expensive expansions like The Taken King.
Mind you, Destiny is a good game, but it’s not an MMO that one could indulge him/herself in for more than a few months. It’s one that encourages too much grinding, and the only reason you’d grind is to be on par only when the next expansion of the title is released.
Then we’re slapped with a massively priced DLC like The Taken King. Sure, it’s good, and it has a lot of content, but at most this content would last a month at most, and then we’re back to our old ways. A strategy to counter this MMO fatigue by Bungie is to integrate micro-transactional add-ons in the game.
These add-ons are something you pay with a new in-game currency called ‘Silver’, which is spent at the Tower vendor Tess Everis and can only be redeemed using real money. Currently, the only items you can purchase are emotes – 18 of them to be exact. It’s a small start, but it’s obviously a timid presentation of paid add-ons that are bound to increase.
Paid cosmetic add-ons aren’t an abnormality in games, and are mostly popular in titles like League of Legends. These titles however, are free-to-play, and players are often rewarded with competitive–ended gaming that lasts for years, something you cannot say for Destiny in any true manner.
Players often purchase these cosmetic packs as a gesture of dedication to a game that has given them hours of free yet extremely rewarding gaming time.
Destiny truly does not fall in that category, as its content, even with DLCs, cannot give players persistent entertainment for over a large period of time. The title is just in its second year, and has relied heavily on three expansions (priced at a combined additional $100) to keep the MMO alive.
According to Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz, this decision from Bungie could allow them to earn ‘hundreds of millions’ per year, which is good for them. The question is though, how does this improve the gaming experience?
With already possibly $160 spent on the game by most Destiny followers, how does in-app purchases further improve the longevity of the title? One answer could possibly be that income generated by these micro-transactions would be invested in creating more additional content for the community.
That’s not a very assuring answer though. Basically, the deal here is to take our money on something that gives zero benefit when we’ve already spent $160 on the game, then use that money to develop more content, which we would have to buy. That doesn’t sound like a very viable business plan.
Destiny is already showing some big hints of desperation in staying relevant, though it’s only just its second year. Bungie should be worried, both about their game and about their long-term planning to keep it alive.