Oh dear. Destiny developer Bungie have found themselves in a bit of bother this week, courtesy of a combination of criminal DLC practices and arrogant comments.
Edit: Bungie have since responded to the backlash, scroll down for more.
DLC continues to be a hotly debated topic, and Destiny has deservedly taken the spotlight over the past few days on this thorny issue.
The upcoming Destiny expansion The Taken King asks veterans to pay $40 for the privilege. The game includes a new raid, new sub-classes and a whole lot of new content. If you're a fan, you might be able to justify the price. For people who haven't yet journeyed into Bungie's plot-shy loot-fest they can pick up the base game, all previous DLC and The Taken King for just $60. You might imagine that this has slighted a few fans.
Bungie really stoked the fires when they gave an interview to Eurogamer, attempting to defend the nature of The Taken King's Collector's Edition. The CE includes exclusive in-game content available only to people who pony up $80 and also a bunch of other typical collector's edition fare. The problem is, to score this content you have to re-purchase the base game and all the DLC content for a second time. Normally I'd presume this was an oversight. But during the interview mentioned above with Destiny's creative director and Eurogamer, it became quite apparent that Bungie's Luke Smith didn't care for those concerns.
Luke Smith tersely claimed that Destiny fans will "throw money at the screen" when they see the emotes, thus ignoring their purchase "anxiety". Despite the Eurogamer interviewer explaining that he didn't want to re-purchase the core game and DLC again, this is how Bungie's Luke Smith responded:
..."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." [...] "If I fired up a video right now and showed you the emotes, you would throw money at the screen."...
As anyone sane might expect, the comments made to Eurogamer's interviewer struck a negative chord with Destiny's player-base. The comments are reminiscent of former Xbox head Don Mattrick stating that "We have a product for people who can't get online, it's called Xbox 360", in response to fan concerns about the Xbox One's former internet connection requirement. You'd think senior industry figures would learn.
Destiny's community manager Deej has since taken to Bungie's official website to claim that something "better" is on its way recognizing long-term fans of the franchise. Reddit commenter leo158 summed up the community's disappointment succinctly:
..."Sorry Deej, the disappointment here for me is not about the price, not about being a Year One guardian, or the game content. It is that the Lead Designer of one of my favorite games of all time is treating the fanbase with utter disrespect. I am not sure how this can addressed nicely."...
Bungie wasn't finished tarnishing their name by mocking fans who don't want to re-buy a ton of content. You can now drink specially marked cans of Red Bull to unlock a compelling-sounding piece of content. What joy.
..."This epic, new quest is a never-before-seen, multi-stage mission in The Taken King that will test the speed and strategic abilities of Destiny players in new ways."...
Disregarding the fact Red Bull is pretty unhealthy (particularly when mixed with Jägermeister in copious amounts), Bungie seem completely unaware of the growing backlash against these ridiculous DLC practices. Some of the more savvy devs have been reacting to the controversy over DLC, providing free DLC instead for example.
The crown for commentary on Bungie's transgressions goes to Dying Light dev Techland, who posted this hilarious 'campaign' on their Twitter account earlier:
At this point, it's probably fair to presume the people still playing Destiny are die-hard fans. As pointed out by Engagdet, for a senior dev to treat fans so arrogantly is something that shouldn't be abided. When explaining that Bungie had compensation coming for Destiny's veterans, Deej still managed to point out proudly that The Taken King CE was mostly sold out despite the backlash. I think it's disgusting to lock players out of content because they don't have the disposable income to justify buying a game twice.
I had hoped that developers like CD Projekt RED with their tons of free Witcher 3 DLC would help put an end to practices seen by Bungie. Alas, it seems we as gamers have more work to do when it comes to taking a stand against this sort of business.
Now, does anyone fancy some Dying Light?
Update: Bungie have responded to recent criticisms with a frank community update on the official Bungie website.
Creative Director Luke Smith posted an apology for the way he came across in Eurogamer's interview:
I am Luke Smith, Creative Director on Destiny: The Taken King.
Many, many years ago, I wrote to you each week in this spot. We talked about Battle Rifles, we talked about stuff we weren't going to talk about, and at some point I did a horrible hand-drawing of an upcoming map and teased you with it in the Weekly Update.
Anyone who knows me knows I can be sarcastic, anyone who remembers podcasts I've done knows that I can be pretty blunt, and anyone who's watched me in a ViDoc knows I'm pretty unpolished. However, most of you don't know me. Reading my interview with Eurogamer and imagining it came from some random developer of a game I love - that random developer looks like an Asshat. But that Asshat was me - and those words rightfully anger you.
My words made it sound as if Bungie doesn't care about their most loyal fans.
We do care. We are listening. And we will make it right.
Smith moves on to state that players who own the previous DLC or have a Light level 30 character will obtain some permanent rewards, including armor shaders and a unique mount.
Additionally, the contested emotes, shaders and exotic weapons will be available separate from the Collector's Edition for $20 on Sept 15th. It seems a tad pricey for a few art assets, let me know in the comments what you think about that.
All of this could've been soundly avoided if developers weren't so keen to nickel and dime their fans with convoluted DLC practices. One can only hope Bungie (and other devs) will learn from this.