In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Luke Smith, creative director of Destiny‘s The Taken King expansion, stalwartly defended the price tags on the upcoming content packages.
Currently, players planning to purchase the expansion will have a few options. They can purchase the expansion on its own, sold at full game retail price for a physical copy and slightly less for a digital download, but there is also the Legendary Collectors’ Edition. The collectors’ edition includes the original game and the new expansion at a price lower than the sum of the content when bought separately. The kicker is that when announced, the collectors’ edition included three new and exclusive emotes, items, and shaders that cannot be obtained any other way.
This means that players that already own the game cannot obtain the exclusive emotes without paying for the game again. As you can likely see, this has brought about a fair bit of controversy. Armed with a slew of questions regarding the issue, Eurogamer did a fantastic job probing Smith for answers. The following passage of the transcribed interview fairly sums up where most of the public frustration is coming from.
Eurogamer: Final question on prices –
Luke Smith: Is it also the final question on the emotes?
Eurogamer: I’m not going to mention them again. I can’t get them.
Luke Smith: But you can if you buy the Collector’s Edition.
Eurogamer: I’m not going to buy the game and the two DLCs all over again.
Luke Smith: Okay, but first I want to poke at you on this a little bit.
Eurogamer: Poke at me?
Luke Smith: You’re feeling anxious because you want this exclusive content but you don’t know yet how much you want it. The notion of spending this money is making you anxious, I can see it –
Eurogamer: I do want them. I would buy them –
Luke Smith: If I fired up a video right now and showed you the emotes you would throw money at the screen.
Eurogamer: What I’m saying is that fan frustration is not because they don’t understand the proposition. It comes regardless of how cool the exclusive content is. The frustration – and mine as a fan – is that the method of acquiring it requires me to re-buy content I bought a year ago.
Luke Smith: [Long pause] It’s about value. The player’s assessment of the value of the content.
It felt like a slap in the face for the loyal and hardcore fans sincerely engaged in the existing content. Hundreds of voiced opinions can be found on various social media hubs and forums, like Reddit and Bungie’s official forums. To quote one Reddit user, leo158, ” the disappointment here for me is not about the price, not about being a Year One guardian, or the game content. It is that the Lead Designer of one of my favorite games of all time is treating the fanbase with utter disrespect.”
If you followed that Reddit post linked above, you already know that David “Deej” Dague, the community manager for Bungie, has responded to the criticisms, stating the following:
Hey, there. First day back from E3, so I’m catching up on a lot of conversation about The Taken King. Please know that we’re reading this feedback and taking it as seriously – as we always do. Destiny is a great game because we worked together to make it that way over the course of the past year. That partnership has not changed.
I understand that you want me to go on record right now with something that will address the disappointment that’s being expressed here. I’m going to defer to the Bungie Weekly Update, in which we’ll talk more about the things we’re doing to celebrate the year-one Guardians who helped us build this community. I’ll also revisit our goals in offering different versions of The Taken King. Ever heard the old adage about trying to please everyone?
Since this statement, Bungie has also spoken with Forbes and Deej has announced that “Year One players won’t get the same perks as people who buy a collector’s edition. They’ll get something better. Tune into the Weekly Update for more.”
This gets the ball rolling on undoing what has been done to the reputation of Destiny, The Taken King, and the people that represent them, by Mr. Smith, but it likely won’t be that simple. In the beautifully arranged words of Forbes contributor Paul Tassi, “all Luke Smith has done has made the developer look money hungry and almost delighted at the degree to which they can exploit their most loyal players.”
Whether or not this gaff leaves a lasting impact on Destiny‘s playerbase will become clear in the weeks and months to come. In the mean time, keep an eye on how Bungie goes about cleaning up the mess. It will reveal whether or not Smith’s opinions represent the company as a whole.