With New Destiny DLC, Bungie Gives A Master Class In How To Alienate And Annoy Paying Fans

from the quadruple-dipping dept

Bungie, creators of the hit game Destiny, is going through a bit of a rough stretch. Whereas Witcher 3 creators CD Projekt Red have been showing the gaming industry how to do everything right in regards to DRM, DLC and consumer interaction, Bungie apparently decided to give a master class over the last few weeks on how to do everything very, very wrong.

Bungie’s first misstep came when it unveiled the latest Destiny expansion pack, The Taken King. To access all of the content in this new expansion, gamers need to buy the new $80 Collector’s Editon, forcing fans to shell out some notable cash to buy a slew of content they already owned (the base game and previous DLC), just to nab some new DLC doo dads. Destiny’s creative director, Luke Smith, then did an epically shitty job of not-really-trying to quell fan outrage over at Eurogamer, where he repeatedly dodged the question of why consumers should pay for content they already own:

Eurogamer: Can you see that some fans are confused that you’re asking them to buy stuff they already own?

Luke Smith: Yeah, I can totally empathise with those people. But the Collector’s Edition is a pretty cool package for people who want to pursue that stuff. Otherwise, surely what you’re saying is that you would want to buy them separately, right?

Eurogamer: Well, yeah. I would rather do that – pay a few pounds or dollars or whatever – than spend money on things I already own.

Luke Smith: [Laughs] Well, we have nothing more to talk about regarding your opportunity to spend extra money in Destiny, other than The Taken King and the three versions we’ve announced”

Talk about non-answers. Smith essentially laughs off concerns about Bungie double dipping, arguing that users just haven’t seen the full awesome scope of what Bungie has planned. When pressed by Eurogamer, Smith would only elaborate that the company is “really comfortable with the value” they’re offering consumers. That of course completely ignored the fact that most Destiny fans were making it very clear they were not seeing said value whatsoever. Not too surprisingly, based on Smith’s seemingly-flippant tone in the article, many Destiny fans felt they were at best being ignored, and at worst being laughed at.

All of this is, of course, ingenious on Bungie’s part if the goal was to create a series of high caliber shitstorms on Reddit. Bungie only made things worse when the company subsequently announced that a chunk of The Taken King DLC would only be available to consumers who buy Red Bull products:

Over at Reddit, someone posted some leaked Red Bull marketing materials for the promotion, which are quick to highlight how this kind of stuff is great because Destiny players are “used to paying a premium for downloadable content.” Isn’t nickel-and-diming fans, like, totally rad?

Of course, one person’s bumbling face plant is another person’s marketing opportunity, and makers of the zombie apocalypse game Dying Light were quick to make fun of Bungie’s DLC horrible week by offering users free DLC…if they drink water (their Twitter feed is now amusingly full of people drinking water):

The Eurogamer interview was published Monday, and by yesterday Bungie had been forced to do a complete 180, not only announcing they’d let fans buy the new DLC piecemeal, but also having Smith apologize for being an “asshat”:

“Reading my interview with Eurogamer and imagining it came from some random developer of a game I love – that random developer looks like an Asshat. But that Asshat was me – and those words rightfully anger you. I’m sorry.

My words made it sound as if Bungie doesn’t care about their most loyal fans. We do care. We are listening. And we will make it right.”

Of course, Bungie wouldn’t have to “make it right” if it hadn’t tried to aggressively nickel-and-dime its loyal fans in the first place. And Bungie, like many companies, wouldn’t be trying to aggressively nickel-and-dime loyal fans if gamers didn’t perpetually reward this kind of behavior by lapping up garbage pricing and content whenever it’s shoveled in their general direction. At the end of the day, the way to stop this kind of pricing isn’t to raise hell after the fact (though obviously that helps), it’s to avoid paying companies that exhibit this kind of behavior in the first place.

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Comments on “With New Destiny DLC, Bungie Gives A Master Class In How To Alienate And Annoy Paying Fans”

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Violynne (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh, no no no no no.

Bungie didn’t back off at all. Instead, they offered an even more insulting offer: allowing players (fans are the nutjobs that keep supporting this stupidity) to buy the specialized emotes for the low, low price of $20.

So an avatar can dance a special move.

After the “throwing money at the screen” comment, I decided right there and then I am officially done with this game. Sadly, it has fantastic potential to be a great franchise, but Bungie not only blew it, but actually made EA look like a saint in the gaming industry.

Even EA didn’t have this much balls to piss of fans this bad, and that’s with microtransactions with DRM! Oh, my.

On the flip side, Bethesda/Zenimax Online releases Elder Scrolls online with tons of emotes, the damn-near entire world of Tamriel, and fantastic game play for a one-time fee of $70.

In fact, I even asked ZOL to consider a lower $7.99/mo fee so I can help support the game, given I feel the current $14.99/mo isn’t valuable to me (it boosts character xp, gold, and Crowns and I don’t want the extra xp – sadly, a “take it or leave it” option).

Despite the real money price of $14.99, I even bought a Senche-Lioness because it offered me fantastic value for what it gives my character. Some may not see this similarly, and that’s fine, but the sheer number of people using real-money items is proof people are willing to “throw money at the screen” when they clearly see value.

Bungie: Grind Spinmetal forever. We’re done here.

Bethesda/ZoL: Flawless Victory. Grinding optional.

The choice is clearly obvious who the better studio is.

AsRf345 says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t play online, but I like the Bethesda single player games. I like that they support modding more than most by releasing quality dev tool.

But they also nearly destroyed the modding community a few months ago when they dropped their stupid, broken, exploitative paid mods plan without any warning.

They also tend to dumb down their games for the console tween market. Fallout 4 is looking pretty damned compromised so far.

My favorite devs are Obsidian and CDPR.

Violynne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I believe you have it backward.

Bethesda pulled the paid mod (from Steam) option because the backlash of putting it in place was the real mistake. Mods have always been free to use and make, and while some developers asked for financial support, most did not.

Plus, there was the whole issue of mods enhanced from other mods, making it impossible to determine where the fees go (the final mod or the original mod creator).

As for the simplification, it makes sense, and Skyrim has proven that a workable balance between all player types was possible.

Yes, it was very easy to go OP in Skyrim, especially fresh and not really getting the scope of perks, but once known, it was up to the player to determine how to manage their upgrades, making difficulty something the player could (mostly) control (the only downside being the level scaling).

TESO does the same thing, albeit perks are now skills, and because of the various skills, makes it outstanding to truly develop a character as you want to play, all the while keeping leveling and controls simple to use for everyone.

Mmm… Fallout 4. November can’t get here fast enough, but at least I’ll be busy for a while until it does arrive.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m with you (though Spirit Blooms are the bane of my existance arrrrggghh).. Luckily I refused to ever get into the grindy lag fest full of out of region fucks that is the Crucible (or Iron Banner)

What am I doing now? Either playing Witcher, or Planetside 2 which if you own a PS4 is freakin amazing and basically a cross between Battlefield, Destiny, Halo, and Dust. oh and Free 2 Play as well.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Wow

Sadly there are more than enough brain-dead, idiotic walking-wallets that will buy anything shoveled in front of them, no matter what the seller says, or how they are treated, as long as it’s ‘New!’ of shiny in some way.

To be sure, it’s hardly a gamer only thing, but it does make being someone with actual self-respect rather aggravating, as it makes stopping practices like this near-impossible, because the vast majority of morons simply don’t care how they’re treated, so the companies have no reason not to treat their customers as terrible as possible.

Best you can really do is a personal boycott, so they at least don’t get your money on top of the money from the idiots.

Old Style Gamer says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow

“Sadly, I can’t boycott this in particular because I already boycott most modern games anyway. Any game that requires talking to a server I can’t control is a game I don’t buy.”

I agree, any game that depends on a outside source to play is not for me. Fortunately I have years of games pre-2005 to play plus modern games from outlets like GOG. Patch maintenance for the really old games (pre 1990)is a bit of a pain but it’s worth it. The CD and DVD may be dead for music but they are great for old games.

PaulT (profile) says:

“Otherwise, surely what you’re saying is that you would want to buy them separately, right? “

Yes, since the entire point is that they already have bought most of the content separately. A package for a new customer is a great deal. A package for an existing content that 90% consists of stuff they already own? Not so much.

This reminds me of one of the things that helped the music industry shoot itself in the foot shortly before/during the Napster days. You could buy a CD of your favourite artist’s new album… then they’re release a new version of the CD with a new track unavailable elsewhere. Then maybe a new CD with all that plus another track or “free” EP. Maybe a Japanese version with some new tracks (but not all the previous ones). Nobody was going to buy a new album every time another track was added, and the people who were most screwed over were the people who bought the first release (more likely to be fans of the artist) than those who came along later. So, of course, the industry was *shocked* when Napster allowed people to obtain all the tracks without buying the same album 4 times.

DLC is already a sore point with gamers, many of whom see it as just a way to get more money out of a game by piecing out content that should have been included under the retail price. Many (including myself) will already wait for a GOTY or similar package for games (or buy at a cheaper price later on down the line) because we are being ripped off. However you try to spin this, it was clearly an attempt to rip people off in the homes of extra profit. Hopefully, not so many people will fall for this now that they’ve “changed” their minds, but we’ll see…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…Now imagine being a Squaresoft fan during those times, when soundtrack were only available in the US, mainland EU and Japan. I knew a friend who, if they wanted to own all the music nominally associated with Final Fantasy IX, had to fork out over $300 to get the three versions. They did…and then an AUS/NZ version came out.

Geno0wl (profile) says:

Multiple-Season passes


Now 2k/Turtle Rick thinks it will nickle and Dime people to an Extreme. It is offering MULTIPLE “season passes”. Remember when you paid a single surcharge of ~$30-$50 and it covered all the DLC for a game?
Well apparently that wasn’t good enough for them.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I should add, my computer science class had us make a game for the 2nd semester and my 5 ppl team did manage to create a game similar to Destiny in Unreal Engine. Less levels and artwork ofc but just to put it in proportians

Are you suggesting that because you could make something similar* but a tiny fraction of the size and that didn’t have to stand up to millions of worldwide users, that Bungie should have been able to make Destiny for cheap?

* I’m just guessing your game mechanics were simpler

Anonymous Coward says:

I like Destiny and will continue to play it, but in spite of Bungie, not because of them.

Especially for those silly emotes, the solution should have been simple, just roll it into the Taken King Expansion. If they really insisted on it being super special for their most loyal fans they could have instead gifted it to everyone who bought a collectors edition + the Taken King.

Instead Destiny has been a bizarre process where Bungie has found ways to make a game that was just good, into pretty damn good, all while driving off potential and current players at the same time.

It’s so unique they should patent it, or does the existence of EA count as prior art?

Anonymous Coward says:

Solution- Warframe

Try it, it’s free. Has more classes than Destiny and you can get everything the game has to offer for free.

I’d really like to say BUY THE DLC but come on… people are paying for a product and now they should pay twice? That might work in the movie market but no chance on the gaming market. BS-Mountain village will welcome you even when you brough a sh**storm with you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Solution- Warframe

While Warframe is a great game (a little wonky at times but quite fun) suggesting that everything can be acquired for free is somewhat misleading. While all of the warframes and weapons can be acquired through gameplay the storage for them can not. That means you can eventually have access to any 2 warframes you like and 6 weapons but that to try something new you have to destroy your already acquired equipment and completely relevel it if you ever want it back.

Anonymous Coward says:

I had similar problems with all the hoops EA and Ubisoft wanted gamers to jump through. I no longer buy anything made by those two gaming houses. No matter how good it might be, seeing the name of either on the box is a guaranteed no sale. Bungie will be joining that list now that they’ve showed their true colors.

You only screw over your customers so many times before they look elsewhere and I am not going to make the same mistake I did with EA and Ubisoft of thinking maybe they’ll get better. Obviously they never will and a token response such as this after a major PR disaster is not going to change my mind.

Anonymous Coward says:

talk is cheap wait until they actually follow through with that 180. Considering how they view the intelligence of their player base they will most likely wait a few months then do it the original plan anyway.

It’s Activision does anyone honestly believe anything they say without on hand proof they are telling the truth?

Personally I am at the point I don’t buy from EA or activision at all. Which is a dam shame sometimes as I really like some of their games. But it just supports their deceptive and what should be criminally liable practices

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Once again gamers are outraged, but that outrage does not lead to them not purchasing the new dildo with which the dev wants to f them with.

If they were really upset they shouldn’t buy anything more and look for a studio that isn’t about using the lubeless dildo. There are tons of fantastic games out there (hell some indies release far more polished crap than the AAA studios do on day 1) that don’t spend their time being interviewed and admitting, you are just a cash node we are harvesting because you don’t fight back.

It is one thing to give bad reviews, yell on the internet, and a far better one to say I’ve had enough who else wants my money. Until the outrage finally effects the bottom line they will do this and worse to the customers. So are you going to buy the dildo and take it… or start screwing the companies bottom line by walking away?

Leit says:

Re: Re:

It’s yet another MMO-ish sci-fi third person shooter with grind mechanics, only this one was made by Bungie, who you may remember from the incredibly popular Halo series. Also features voice acting by a very unimpressed Peter Dinklage.

I honestly couldn’t tell you much more than that, since the game is notably short on story and character.

Someone else mentioned Warframe above. It’s also grindy, but it’s regularly updated, has many many more character options and Digital Extremes don’t treat their community like suckers. They also released a couple of new free emotes just last week, around when the Destiny DLC issue was heating up.

Fail says:

Being one of those rare hardcore Bungie players I can tell you the community is split on this. One half complaining this is total bullshit and the other half saying to be good little consumers and just shut up and buy it. It’s pretty frustrating considering I was really hyped for this game and I already put quite a few hours (1000+ not exaggerating) and now this happens and other fans have the gall to tell me to just keep consuming.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’d say the split is more between the “collectors” and everyone else who understand that they’re not going to unlock everything in the game anyway.

On the one hand it stinks that there’s content, ostensibly from the Taken King, that we’re not getting. On the other hand it’s no worse than the PlayStation exclusive missions and weapons. Someone else having a little more in no way lessens my experience.

Anonymous Coward says:

blah blah blah. OMG you have to buy a collectors edition to get a dance move, a skin color, and an XP thing to get your characters to level 20 quicker (which of course you probably have 3 level 30+ chars by now). So they offer those items for $20 and people still bitch. Anyone that has a level 30+ character gets some exclusive items as well. I play the game every day and will gladly spend $40 for the TKK dlc in the fall.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

A Little Perspective

For all the folks that self-identify as ignorant of video games in general or Destiny specifically. Hurling insults accusing gamers of being too splineless to boycott on this either A) completely misinterprets the situation or B) is highly hypocritical.

The people who are upset really like Destiny. They want more of it, and they plan to spend money to get it. If they weren’t invested they would walk away. This is the third major DLC in under a year, without which the base game is essentially useless. That’s because the game is centered more around events and community than delivering a static narrative; it’s a living organism that changes over time. So if you don’t like buying DLC or you want to wait for the “Game of the Year” edition, that’s fine but you’ll be playing a vastly different game than the rest of us.

Bungie and the Destiny community have nearly weekly feedback sessions about how the game is running, what to expect, what we’ve broken, and what we’d like changed. Pushback is a regular occurrence, this time it happens to be about price structure instead of Shotgun Damage which means non-gaming publications are giving it more credence because they understand the terms. (Smith giving a douchy interview didn’t help things)

So $40 for some dance moves and a new gun doesn’t seem fair, but it’s not worth burning your profile over. Do you cancel your ISP subscription because they give better promotional rates to new customers? Do you quit the gym because they have pizza night for new members? Do you trash all your team jerseys because the game airs at a strange time of day when they travel? It’s not that big a deal, and frankly you all should wish you have as much pull as the Destiny community does at Bungie.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: ...Leading to a hungry fanbase.

I do think Jeremy Lyman indirectly makes a valid point, which is that franchise owners should be held to some degree of responsibility (if not legally than socially) to the proper care, feeding and respect of its fanbase. That is to at least put effort to sustain a standard of quality-of-product, to treat the diegesis with the same respect that the fans would, and then to offer it at reasonable, affordable prices.

I’d also argue that bonus content for re-purchasing old material is taking advantage of fan enthusiasm, much like the LOTR DVD editions being followed with expanded versions of the movie that had to be purchased again. (The digital video industry is awful about taking advantage of fan loyalty.)

Companies are quite fond of disregarding their loyal customers as anything but walking wallets, so, yeah we get Horse Armor caliber content for the cost of an entire standalone game. And the only way that is justified from a marketing perspective is squeezing the loyal fanbase for their lunch money.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: A Little Perspective

So $40 for some dance moves and a new gun doesn’t seem fair, but it’s not worth burning your profile over.

I think it’s $20, which is still a ridiculous price, but I agree. I don’t mind what they charge, I just won’t buy it. It’s just rude to offer it they way they did originally: give us 80 bucks for all this stuff you already have if you want the new content. That’s basically taking a crap on your loyal fans (which is not the first time they’ve done that). Offering them as a standalone purchase is better – rolling it in for free with the DLC would be even better than that. If it were $5 I might even consider it.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re: A Little Perspective

It was a $40 difference when Smith suggested that die-hards would purchase the $80 noob-tastic collector’s edition instead of only the $40 Taken King DLC. Now the sweet dance moves can be had for $20 on top of the DLC $40.

Yes it kinda stings how these charges seem to add up (especially since I had to by the base game again when I upgraded consoles), but if you actually use it the price averages out to something like $11 a month. That’s way more value for engagement than I got from a stack of other games on my shelf.

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