If you’ve been paying attention to Destiny 2 at all recently, you’ve probably heard complaints about the Eververse, their microtransaction store. Along with Shadowkeep came approximately the 50th rework of their store, which in its history has swung wildly between being so overly generous you’d be crazy to spend money in it, to a completely walled garden with a steep entry fee. The current incarnation has definitely got players annoyed with how many premium cosmetics are for sale vs what’s available in the actual game to grind for, and whenever this happens it sparks off a thousand different debates around what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to asking players to pay up some extra cash. The problem is, everyone draws their own line in the sand about this stuff, so the conversations are rarely productive, except in the most egregious situations.
Nevertheless, I’m going to throw my hat into the ring with four things I think Bungie should immediately do to improve the store, along with my opinion about how their philosophy around microtransactions should line up with the rest of the game. Onto the first point!
Fix the Pricing
Everything in the Eververse feels too expensive. NZ$12 for a single exotic ornament? That’s as much or more than an actual season costs. Sure, seasons actually feel quite cheap for what they are, but it creates such a disconnect for the player when a single cosmetic skin for a gun costs as much as three months of content they’re playing. Even more egregious are the seasonal armour sets, which by default cost as much as Shadowkeep if you want all three. I know pieces are being sold for bright dust over the weeks, but even after buying a few pieces with it it’s still more expensive than it should be. The thing is, having prices like these hurts everybody. If I could make a $5 impulse purchase for an ornament I liked the look of, or even scoop up one of those armour sets for $10-$15 I’d probably have made a bunch of purchases by now, rather than the zero I have currently. There’s a mental barrier that’s created when you ask a player to purchase a cosmetic that equates to more than actual content they’ve purchased, and I really struggle to believe that they wouldn’t see a whole lot more players dropping cash if the prices were fairer. This is probably my most subjective suggestion as money has a different value for everyone, and there certainly is an argument to be made that high prices in the store could theoretically keep content prices low, but we don’t actually have any evidence of that, and when you pair it with my next point it’s a lot more frustrating.
Ditch the BS Silver Currency System
To set this up, let’s take a look at these prices of these items in the store:
Now, take a look at the bundles of silver you have to buy in order to make purchases:
Notice anything funky? All the prices are lined up with the bundles in order to ensure you have to buy more than you need for a purchase. If you want that ornament for 700 silver, you actually need to buy the 1100 silver bundle, leaving you 400 left over, so that you may as well buy an extra 500 to get another one, which in turn will leave you with a bit of change. Fuck that shit big time. The whole system is designed to get you trapped in an endless cycle of purchases, by ensuring you always have a few hundred silver in the bank to make you feel bad for not spending it. This is exploitative mobile game tactics, and honestly I’m surprised this isn’t brought up as one of the giant issues with Eververse when these conversations happen. There’s absolutely no reason Bungie could come up with to justify this pricing model. If there’s technical reasons they can’t just let you purchase things directly with money, then change the bundles to line up with the prices. Anyway you look at it, this is inexcusable and needs to change ASAP.
In Game Cosmetics are Lacking
The in game cosmedics issue is simple, let’s take a look at all the sparrows that can be acquired this season:
All of the exotics (A.K.A the only ones that matter) for this season come from the Eververse, same goes for all Ghost skins as well. I probably don’t need to say anything more, but just to drive it home, there’s a red spikey sparrow that would have been perfect as a reward from something related to the Shadowkeep, like the dungeon, and a Divinity inspired one that would have been perfect from the raid. I think a really basic rule they should stick to is, ‘if it looks like it should come from a specific piece of content, it should.’ If you want to make weird and funny sparrows and ghosts to sell that have no place in the game naturally, go for it. But as it stands they made themselves look bad by not including a single one of these as an in game reward.
The Bright Dust Economy is Busted
There’s two factors working towards Bright Dust feeling bad; It’s a grind to get, and Bungie purposefully keeps what can be purchased with it unknown. The first issue can be fixed with some simple number tweaking. Some weekly bounties give 200 dust, and some ‘infinitely’ repeatable bounties give a lot less and are constrained by other resources such as glimmer which they cost to purchase, which stops even the most hardcore grinder from gaining more dust than Bungie want. You can realistically grind for somewhere just between 1000-2000 Bright Dust in a week, which isn’t nothing, but far from a comfortable amount if you don’t have a stockpile saved. Couple this with recent efforts to entice long time players to spend their hordes of saved up Dust on things like the armour glows from The Revelry event right before the expansion dropped, which are now effectively worthless because statistically superior gear is available, and it’s clear Bungie don’t want players having this currency stockpiled ready to spend whenever they please. The solution here is simple; if you’re a reasonably dedicated player who puts a decent amount of time into the game each week, then acquiring whatever is being offered for bright dust shouldn’t be an issue. I understand it’s an impossible currency to balance simply because of the hardcore vs new player disparity, but if they have to lean in a direction, it should be towards the players benefit.
Not making clear what can be bought with Bright Dust is an underhanded tactic Bungie are employing that hurts the player. By not giving us this information, it creates confusion and encourages impulse purchases that only frustrate the player. The fact people are relying on data miners posting on Reddit to get any idea if an item they have their eye on will ever be offered for Dust shows there’s an issue. If the most hardcore players of the game want to save their dust for the limited array of cosmetics that get offered every season, what’s the problem? That’s a player who will be purchasing content long into the future, meaning there’s no rush to tempt them into microtransactions that leave them frustrated when it appears for sale for Dust a few weeks after they bought it. Bungie are only looking at the short term gain which will hurt them overall.
So, some of you may be thinking, “other games do this stuff all the time, why is it such a problem when Destiny does it?” The reason is Destiny thrives when it fosters goodwill from its community. You can’t have Luke Smith come out with his Directors Cut blog posts talking about wanting to be transparent with fans and respecting the community’s feedback, while with designing a microtransaction store that exploits the player base and hides information from them. Destiny should have a store where its most dedicated players feel good about spending money and want to support the game. Games like Path of Exile have done this in a way where players are happy spending hundreds of dollars on cosmetic packages, because Grinding Gear Games don’t make it feel like they’re trying to trick them out of their money. Bungie’s design philosophy of the Eververse only undermines player trust, and will do more damage in the long run than it’s worth to score a couple quick bucks now.