All the new story content for the next year of Destiny, Bungie’s first new franchise since it launched Halo in 2001, will be free, as the company continues with a major overhaul of the multiplayer online game following its troubled first year.
To make up for the lost revenue from giving away the content for free, Bungie has announced plans to introduce microtransactions to the game for the first time, letting users spend real money to buy cosmetic items such as character gestures and visual changes to their “Sparrow” hover bike in game.
Microtransactions are often viewed with suspicion by players, and Bungie seems keen to emphasise that the purchases, from the in-game Eververse Trading Company, will have no effect on the broader game. “If you’re not interested in what [the in-game vendor] has to offer, you won’t ever be forced to pluck an item off of her shelf,” the developers wrote. “You’ll still receive updates to the game, and you won’t lose a Crucible encounter or fail to clear a Raid because you didn’t have the right Eververse Trading Company emote equipped.”
The revenue model established throughout the first year was a major release, followed by two smaller minor releases, and leaked slides suggested that the initial plan was to continue that model into year two. Instead, the company seems to have decided that the minor releases – which retailed for £20 each in the UK, and were widely criticised for being overpriced given the content contained within – are best delivered in bits and pieces, free of charge.
Bungie says the microtransaction revenue will fund those expansions: “Our plan is to use these new items to bolster the service provided by our live team for another full year, as they grow and create more robust and engaging events that we’ll announce later this year. It has been, and continues to be, our goal to deliver updates to the game. Going forward, our live team is also looking to grow beyond vital updates and improvements to focus on world events, experiences, and feature requests.”
In doing so, the change takes Destiny closer to the model of World of Warcraft, the ground-breaking massively multiplayer online game which entered its second decade last year. Warcraft offers major new content in paid-for expansion packs, and then drops smaller “content patches” periodically, which progress the story of the game world. Unlike Destiny, however, Warcraft still charges a monthly subscription fee for players – although that fee can be paid using in-game currencies.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 6th October 2015 15.38 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010