After nearly nine months of haranguing from disappointed fans and harsh criticism from the gaming media in general, Bungie has finally presented us with something that is wholly exciting. Destiny 2’s “Forsaken” expansion looks great, better than great even. One could even say that it looks like it contains everything Destiny fans were expecting Destiny 2 to offer from the very beginning. Perhaps even more. Truly, it looks as if Bungie has finally heard the community’s feedback and acted upon it. That, however, only seems to be the case in regard to the content of Forsaken. Unfortunately, everything surrounding it is still classic Destiny-era Bungie. Destiny may be changing soon, but Bungie most certainly isn’t.
Let’s not mince words here, the Destiny community was in this exact situation three years ago in the months leading up the release of The Taken King. It was to be sold for a price of $40 and required the installation of all previous DLC, even though House of Wolves did not require the Dark Below. Players at the time were outraged at both the price tag and the need to purchase a DLC that was seemingly only required because Bungie said so. One would think the developer would learn a lesson from this, and they did; it was just the wrong one. We are now approaching the second year of Destiny 2 and Bungie is showing us exactly what they’ve learned: that they can get away with it. Curse of Osiris is almost universally panned as being unworthy of players’ time and money. It isn’t required to play Warmind, offers hardly any mechanical changes and yet Bungie, without offering any explanation, says it will be required for Forsaken all the same. This would be bad enough by itself, but Bungie isn’t content to stop there; no, they’ve decided that they need to milk their players even more than they already are, and they’re going to do it with the “Annual Pass.”
In the stream following the reveal of Forsaken, Bungie’s representatives took some time to do fans a “favor” and better explain what exactly will be included in the Annual Pass. Put simply, it will consist of new challenges, new gear, new lore, new challenges and new events. It all sounds good doesn’t it; as if they’ve finally found a way to keep new content coming outside the major expansions? Except that just about all of this is content that, even as recently as this past April, was all offered free of charge. To some this change might not seem like a big deal, their likely reasoning being that Bungie shouldn’t have to work for free. That’s true. They shouldn’t and they never have been. They’ve always been paid for it through the microtransactions offered through the Eververse cash shop. What’s more, acquiring funding for these “free” updates was and is the entire justification for having the Eververse in the first place.
“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.”
Now that guardians have to directly pay for this content too, how exactly is there any justification whatsoever for keeping the Eververse around? As it currently stands: there isn’t. The Eververse now exists for the sole purpose of extracting extra money from eager players. This isn’t a free to play game like Fortnite. It’s a $60 premium AAA experience game. That price goes up to ~$170 for those who bought Destiny 2, its individual expansions, and who will buy both the $40 Forsaken and Bungie’s $30 Annual Pass. No matter how one slices it, that same old scumminess is still very present.
There’s no justification for this other than Bungie thinking they can get away with it and they most certainly will. When Forsaken launches in September, Destiny fans will have been waiting for about a year for the game to finally become what it should have been in the first place. If Forsaken turns out to be as good as it looks, then Bungie deserves to be rewarded for it. There’s no excuse for all the scumminess surrounding it, though, especially when there are similar games like Monster Hunter World, Warframe and Rainbow Six: Siege that are all enjoying massive success without dipping into any exploitative business practices.
With Monster Hunter World in particular, every update, event and addition has been given to players 100 percent free of charge and they’ve been implemented at a pace that Bungie can only dream of matching. What’s more, the game is a massive success. It’s lead Capcom, a developer/publisher that’s been around since the days of the NES, into its single most profitable period in the company’s entire history. With a contemporary example like that on the market, it’s hard to see how anyone can defend the business choices Bungie continues to make with Destiny.
As a fan of Halo-era Bungie and of Destiny in general, it sucks having to point this out now that Bungie has finally shown some signs of passion for Destiny. Forsaken has all the hallmarks of a product that’s had some real love and care put into it, and the team behind it deserves all the praise and kudos that they’re currently enjoying for it. If it manages to meet the sky-high expectations this past week’s reveal has no doubt inspired in the Destiny community, then they’ll deserve even more. Forsaken and it’s team aren’t the issue here, but rather Destiny in general and specifically Bungie’s incessant need to squeeze its player base for all they’re worth. It can be done better. It is being done better by several others. So what exactly is Bungie’s excuse for treating their fans like a bunch of simpletons with bottomless wallets? Do they even think they need one? Hopefully they’re not that far-gone, but since they’ve been employing these same practices for almost three years now and are now escalating even further, refuting such an impression is difficult to say the least.