Destiny’s Bad PR Week
I’ve put in several hours on Bungie’s quasi-MMO, Destiny. The game clicked with me almost instantly and I can’t truly explain why. The grinding was annoying (which is fixed now). It feels content was completely stripped from the game to sell DLC. The main story mode wasn’t anything like Halo, which I think a lot of people wanted. Yet, I find myself going back every so often. The shooting mechanics are great. The game is really vivid and gorgeous. And their PVP mode, Crucible, is a blast to play. I’ve played through 150 raids, and I’m one of the few people who have the Platinum trophy for this game. But there’s a reason I haven’t even tried to review it yet. It’s a love/hate relationship and really hard to review for me. However, I can say that with all the crap I’ve had to deal with in Destiny, I really enjoyed my time in it. And still do.
But this week has been a PR disaster for Bungie, Activision, and the future of Destiny. Luke Smith’s recent interview with Eurogamer came across as rude and insulting to their fan base. Then his apology was followed up with a new pricing scheme for people who want the collector’s edition of The Taken King without the base game, and it felt like (to some) Bungie/Activision had learned nothing. And then the there was the announcement of a partnership with Red Bull that’s similar to Call of Duty/Battlefield’s partnership with beverages. They’ve got a long road to recovery to win back the internet and some of their fans.
Destiny already had a rough start. It was hated before the game even came out when leaks revealed that there was a possibility the game had cut content. After the game was released, players felt lied to about what the game was about, how it was going to play, and the lack of content. And yes, there was a massive lack of content in the game to keep it running like a typical MMO. Then when the first mini-expansion hit, vanilla players were locked out of events such as the weekly strikes unless they upgraded. It was a mess.
With the most recent expansion, it seems as though Bungie was listening to the community a bit more and fixing some of the initial problems. I was one of those people that hated their first DLC pack. It was a grind fest! And after hearing they cut the raids for their second DLC, which are my favorite parts of the game, I almost had no desire to jump back in. I jumped back in to try it out anyway and had a blast again. It felt like the last couple of patches and their last DLC was a fix to the majority of the problems I was having in the game. It’s still not a perfect game, but it’s a blast to play with friends.
Here’s my thoughts on the recent Destiny news. The Luke Smith interview was a disaster on a PR front. Reddit and NeoGAF were all over this news and felt genuinely insulted. I felt insulted when I first read it. Look, video game companies are making video games to make money. We all know this. But when they tell you what you know, it cheapens your experiences with a product. And it looked like a number of people took Smith’s comment about seeing the dancing emotes and throwing money at the screen as an ultimate insult. But was it?
How many people on these same sites are posting Phillip J. Fry’s “Take my money!” meme and posting it whenever they see something they like in a trailer? I believe given Luke Smith’s previous history with communicating to fans made his (hopefully) joking remark fall flat. That, and people not liking his previous comments about his lack of empathy for fans having to rebuy the game to get the emotes, shaders and sparrow.
A few days after the controversy, Luke Smith has issued an apology for his remarks and has announced that the collector’s edition content (particularly non-physical content) will be sold separately. That’s good news, right? The price for this content is $20. It’s not a good price and part of the reasons I don’t like nickel and dime DLC. And given that I don’t agree with it, it’s cosmetic crap I don’t really care about in the long run. I bought the Ghost Edition of Destiny when it came out and the only thing I use from that collector’s edition is my ghost that looks like the physical copy of the ghost that came in the packaging. The shaders and such I haven’t used since the first month of playing.
Strictly speaking, I don’t find a real issue with the price for cosmetics being priced that way. They’re not game winning elements in the game. They’re visual aids. And I agree with Smith’s comments on this subject: if you think it’s worth it, buy it. Otherwise, don’t.
The biggest concern I have with this game’s future is their marketing deal with Red Bull. According to the ad, there’s an exclusive mission for the upcoming DLC that is only unlocked by buying a can of Red Bull. And if that isn’t enough, you can level up faster by buying Red Bull. Locked content behind a beverage just isn’t a good call. Especially when your game is highly criticized above any game I’ve seen in the past.
Destiny is a very expensive game and I don’t have a problem with 3rd party marketing when it’s cosmetic. A red/blue color scheme locked before a Red Bull can, and even the XP bonuses are somewhat ok due to the nature of this game. But locking out a mission in a game that struggles with content is a bad move. That’s the biggest issue in this week’s edition of Destiny controversies.