Destiny’s first year was jam-packed with loads of content. The vanilla game, released at the end of 2014, was received rather bitterly by the gaming community due to a completely forgettable, incoherent story and a lack of content in general. From the very beginning, though, Bungie had big plans to supply a continuing stream of additional content for the game; Activision was counting on it as Destiny’s biggest source of potential revenue, and Bungie delivered with two DLC releases and a substantial expansion.
The Dark Below, House of Wolves, and The Taken King were all welcome additions to a game that felt incomplete and lacking. Many players felt betrayed, though; hoodwinked into paying almost $150 for the complete Destiny experience that really should have been available last September for $60. It’s a double-edged sword: on one hand we’ve been starving for more content, wanting to keep a game with rock-solid gunplay and gorgeous visuals alive, but on the other hand it seems unfair to have to pay upwards of $100 every year just to keep up with all of the DLC and expansion content.
It would seem that Bungie was also pretty stressed out in its attempt to supply us with all of that content all in a year’s time. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier wrote an excellent, well-researched feature about the making of Destiny and all of the difficulties the crew at Bungie experienced from concept to final product. As it turns out, the game’s engine, built from the ground up just for Destiny , is incredibly powerful and incredibly frustrating to work with. A developer familiar with the engine offered an example of how frustrating it can be to implement even a tiny change:
“Let’s say a designer wants to go in and move a resource node two inches. They go into the editor. First they have to load their map overnight. It takes eight hours to input their map overnight. They get [into the office] in the morning. If their importer didn’t fail, they open the map. It takes about 20 minutes to open. They go in and they move that node two feet. And then they’d do a 15-20 minute compile. Just to do a half-second change.”
Apparently all it took was this first year for the team at Bungie to realize that two DLC packs and an expansion every year simply wasn’t feasible. Instead Bungie has revealed that it is going to focus on more events instead of spreading its team to crank out DLC. Derek Carroll told Eurogamer during PlayStation Experience, “With Taken King we are moving to a more event-based model – things like Festival of the Lost and Sparrow racing, which is our winter event, and then smaller events such as Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris every weekend.”
This means that instead of making money by selling DLC, Bungie is counting on generating revenue through microtransactions: those already available from buying emotes and shaders through the Eververse Trading Company, and additional cosmetic purchases that will be offered during future events. Personally, I think that this is a very wise decision, and if everyone will put down their torches and pitchforks I think they’ll see that this is what we really do want.
There are tons of new players coming to Destiny for the first time this holiday season after an aggressive marketing campaign for The Taken King and an attractive limited edition PS4 that comes bundled with the same. Bungie no doubt realizes that for all but the most hardcore among these newcomers, there is a ton of content that will take a lot of time to work through if they want to experience everything. The last thing players want after spending $300 on a new console and game is to feel left out when the initial player-base moves on to new raids within the first few months.
I have to bring up, too, that with every newly released DLC and expansion, there is unfailingly a two-week period of bitching and moaning about having to spend more money on Destiny to keep things fresh. At least now we can look forward to a year of fun, surprising events that everyone can enjoy together without spending a dime if they don’t want to. I have no doubt that Bungie will offer some really attractive vehicles, shaders, and emotes for purchase, and I hope that they make a lot of money off of them. In less than a year we’ve been promised another huge expansion, and I think Bungie has set itself up with all of the time and resources it needs to make it something truly great.