The Darkness of Micro-Transactions

Almost an exact month after Bungie releases The Taken King expansion for Destiny, they announce and implement micro-transactions into the game world.  By now you already know how Frantic and I feel about micro-transactions in general; they work at earning some extra revenue for developers, but should be limited to cosmetic items only.  Luckily the micro-transactions in Destiny are following this “golden rule” so far.

The latest patch added the “Eververse Trading Company” which is basically a fancy way of saying “we brought back a vendor we removed from the game and repurposed them.”  It also introduced a new in-game currency, called Silver, which is used exclusively for buying the wares that the Eververse Trading Company offers.  What are the wares you might be wondering?  Emotes.  Yep, that’s it.

Personally speaking, I’m not overly thrilled that micro-transactions were introduced to Destiny as I think the game didn’t need them necessarily.  However, I don’t think it is signifying that Destiny will eventually become a pay-to-win game.  Why do I think this?  Quite simply I just think it is way too early to assume that adding the ability to buy new emotes means that we will eventually be able to buy weapon or armor packs, or whatever to increase the drop rates to get better gear.

Eververse

The pictured paragraph is the main reason why I’m remaining optimistic to this concept in the game.  If buying some Silver to grab an emote that lets me sarcastically clap in response to a teammate falling to their death during a raid helps bring new events to play then I’m willing to spend some cash once in a while.  Plus, it seems that the prices for Silver are fairly within the acceptable price range for a micro-transaction.

Since Destiny has been called a mash up between an FPS and an MMO, let’s see how it stacks up against the typical format of micro-transactions for an MMO.  Generally, the price range for most purchases are between the $1 and $15 dollar marks with the most common being between $1 and $5; on extreme cases you can even see some packs cost upwards to $100 (see: GTA V’s Shark Cards) but those really aren’t “micro” anymore.  With Silver, you can purchase it in three bundles of varying prices depending how much real world money you want spend.  For $5 you can get 500 pieces of Silver, $10 will get you 1,100 pieces, and if you want to figuratively throw $20 at your screen you can get 2,300.  Unfortunately, to buy all 18 current emotes you’ll need to spend 3,300 Silver if my math is correct.

When it comes to where Bungie, Activision, and even we as the players should draw the line as to what is okay to buy from the new storefront; I’m going to refer you to Frantic’s post on the “right and wrong” way to do micro-transactions.  He touches on some good points on how developers should handle them, and I feel that Bungie should avoid the whole “pay-to-win” thing with Destiny.  Bungie loves using the term “power matters” a lot with this game, and weapons and armor that you use affect that “power”, you should never be able to purchase a weapon or armor pack that has high level gear in it.

So if weapons and armor are off limits, what else could work to sell from the Eververse Trading Company?  Well, emotes are already available for purchase (some are kind of cool…) and I’m almost certain we’ll be seeing more of them in the future.  Items like emblems or color shaders for your characters could work as well.  However, these items will have to be really, really, awesome looking in order for people to spend their hard earned money on them.

To wrap things up, I do not think that having micro-transactions in Destiny is entirely a bad idea.  I didn’t really want to see it happen, but if it means the game will continue to grow in terms of content then I don’t mind in the least.  The community’s reaction to this was a little over the top, they’re just emotes and nothing that alters gameplay in any way.   At the same time, Bungie needs to be cautious as to where they take this.  Keep it to cosmetic items only and nothing that will make the power of money matter.

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