“Festival of the Cost,” they called it.
For many, it was the final straw in Destiny’s microtransaction evolution, as the game has found a way to sell everything from ships to shaders to boosts to armor sets to consumables to record books through it’s real-money Eververse store, and fans finally seemed to have had enough during this year’s Halloween-themed Festival of the Lost event.
As it turns out, Bungie may be finally ready to roll back some of their more controversial decisions, as evidenced by a few major changes in “The Dawning,” the new holiday-ish event that also includes the return of the Sparrow Racing League.
So what exactly has changed?
1. The Record Book for SRL is Now Free
Last year, Sparrow racing arrived and not only could fans gamble for Sparrows in treasure boxes, but they were also asked to buy a “record book” for about $10, which kept track of their wins and other achievements in the mode, and unlocked racing-themed prizes the more objectives were complete.
Rise of Iron introduced its own record book for themed achievements based on that DLC, and while it didn’t cost extra, that made sense, given that the DLC itself cost a pretty penny. Here though, with this free update, it’s nice to see that Bungie realizes that a ton of engagement comes from the record book, and that it’s really pushing their luck to charge for something that is pretty core to the feeling of achievement in the experience. The result, if you complete the objectives, is a fair bit of cosmetic racing gear without having to spend a cent. That’s great for F2P players who often feel left out in the cold during events like this.
2. You Can Now Buy Specific Ornaments Without Gambling
This was buried in about a 15 second clip of an IGN interview, but yes, it’s been confirmed that “Bungie has heard you” and there will be a separate kiosk by Eververse where players can buy specific weapon ornaments directly for Silver. As in, you get to choose the one you want without gambling for it in a box.
There’s no word on pricing, but presumably it will be more expensive than treasure boxes, given that you’re allowed to pick and choose. If treasure boxes are usually $2, maybe…$4? $5? That would be my guess.
This sounds minor, but if this move is successful, hopefully Bungie will considering offering other cosmetic items for sale in this format, rather than forcing fans to feel like they have to gamble. Much of fan outrage over Bungie’s microtransactions doesn’t stem from the fact that they’re selling cosmetic items, it’s that fans have to gamble for them in randomized boxes, which feels unnecessarily greedy and punishing.
For now, other items like sparrows and those fancy new armor sets shown off in all the trailers seem to be remaining in these randomized boxes for The Dawning, but perhaps in the future there will be an entire cosmetic store dedicated to higher-priced, specific purchases for those players who know exactly what they’re looking for and don’t want to dig through dozens of boxes to find it. The question, of course, is if enough satisfied customers buying things directly offsets the kind of whales who will spend hundreds of dollars gambling for items, and usually the answer is “no” when questions like that are asked. But I have hope this may lead to a more up-front storefront for a multitude of items in the future, if this experiment goes well.
3. Players Are Getting Free Daily Treasures, Sort Of
This last point is a little fuzzy, and it’s not quite clear exactly what it means yet, but Bungie has indicated that every day players log on, that citizens in the Tower will give them “new gifts,” with the image being some sort of present-like package.
But before fans get too excited that Bungie has multiplied the free treasure distribution rate by seven, it does seem unlikely that these “gifts” are the same treasure boxes you can purchase for silver. Even if Bungie is changing their ways to some extent with these other items, I very much doubt that they’re going to dump 20+ boxes in every player’s lap for this event.
Even if these boxes are mostly silly cosmetics or chromas or something, perhaps they could have a small chance of giving out a “real” treasure item, which would be incentive for players to show up every day and grab them. But whatever this is, it’s probably better than nothing, so I’m counting it as progress.
I still remain skeptical of Destiny’s “event-filled” Year Two and Three, as it’s just so painful to have lived through a content-rich Year One only to have it slow way, way, down like this But things were starting to get really bad in terms of how much players were getting milked during these “free” events, and it’s nice to see that all the pushback is leading to real changes. All of these items are steps in the right direction, and while there still may be some ways to go, Destiny finally seems to be moving down the proper path in this area. We’ll see how that plays out when the event arrives on the 13th.
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