Destiny The Taken King: Bungie On DLC vs Expansion And Farming Loot

The development team is aware of a lot of things about Destiny that aren’t appreciated- but are there by design nonetheless.

Posted By | On 11th, Oct. 2015 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605

Destiny The Taken King

After a full year, a tough year, but a year marked with tangible success, Destiny finally seems to have found its footing, and begun to deliver on the potential that it initially hinted at. A lot of this has to do with the recent release of the Taken King expansion- an expansion which Bungie treats differently than the previous two ‘expansions’ The Dark Below and House of Wolves, which were glorified DLC packs more than anything else. Something which it seems that Bungie is now ready to admit.

In an interview with Planet Destiny, Bungie’s Luke Smith differentiated DLC packs like The Dark Below and House of Wolves from full fledged expansions like The Taken King- as the price point should reflect, one is a bigger deal than the others (the DLC packs were $20 each, The Taken King is $40). This is because, in Smith’s view, the DLC packs only add more content to the game- an expansion like The Taken King reflects a full and substantial overhauling of the game at every level (which is what has fixed so much of what was wrong with Destiny).

Bigger updates like The Taken King take time to develop- and so, they release infrequently. But to ensure the game world keeps developing, and remains dynamic and alive, Smith stated that more of the smaller updates to Destiny will keep on coming.

Smith also discussed the game’s RNG governed loot grind, which is simultaneously the most criticized, and most addictive, part of Destiny’s design. Smith rebuffs the criticism, and states that some rewards should be hard to gain by nature- that is the point. He also discusses farming and farming methods, such as the Three of Coins, as something intrinsic to the game’s design- it is not an exploit, the development team knew exactly what they were doing when they did it.

It’s something that keeps players invested in and returning to Destiny, that is for sure.

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  • Neshama

    “It’s something that keeps players invested in and returning to Destiny, that is for sure.


    ^key word there is investment, their senior design lead tyson green is also apparently their designated “investment” manager, tasked with making sure the mechanics, graphical user interface, loot systems, etcetera, are simple, easy to use, and keep players engaged in and “invested” in the game and the game-world.

    yet another indication they are truly a major studio and company not just the people who made halo and not just a minor or even moderate gaming studio/company.

    i saw an article a few weeks ago about their user research team, they go into college level and higher psychology in their user research and everything is being run by the user research team before being put in the game it sounded like.

    this past week i saw an article with a long transcript of an interview from the person responsible for the weapon balancing portion of patch 2.0, the person who nerfed auto rifles back b4 i even knew what destiny was, the person who nerfed the gun most of the player base knows as “Vex Myth OP” instead of its actual name “Vex Mythoclast”, lol.

    both those articles indicated they know exactly what they are doing and are refining game devolpment down to a science and trying to understand the reasons behind players actions etcetera, while still keeping their primary focus on the art behind the creation of the world and the weapons.

    the Grimoire and the new Taken King cutscenes and new additions to the Grimoire in the Taken King show that yes Virginia, Destiny does indeed have a story/plot, and that they are starting to put as much effort into it slowly but surely as they already have into the mechanics, visuals, and psychology.

    Destiny the Game, could be a thesis research project for a Graduate level degree almost as easily as it is an actual game developed by a AAA((whatever that means anyway)) game developer, they are putting that much work into behind the scenes.

    Everytime they open another small window/portal into their world, i’m amazed by what they show us and what is actually going on in-house behind the closed doors.

    Also, back to this article, whilst players called the first 2 DLC packs expansions, and sometimes the Bungie staff went along with it and called them that as well, really they’ve always tried pretty hard in all their press stuff to keep the distinction, usually referring to both The Dark Below & House of Wolves as DLCs or DLC1 & DLC2, whilst every mention of The Taken King just about has been mentioning it as “Expansion” “True Expansion” “1st Expansion” “1st True Expansion” or as an “Overhaul” or “Refresh” of the base “Destiny” game, and as something which would keep destiny going in year 2 and until whenever the sequel game is ready (which i still hope gets delayed until 2017 sometime not its rumored fall 2016 release date, because the first game still needs more content and tweaks b4 the sequel comes out, and i don’t think they’ve had enough time yet to incorporate the lessons learned from the first game into the sequel adequately and if they release it when the leak rumored it would be, that everyone will be dissapointed again at a lack luster retail release and the franchise will be DoA for many people if that happens again)

    so yeah it was primarily players and article writers/gaming press/gaming journalists that called the first 2 DLCs expansions and rather then correct everyone, they just allowed the hype to continue and everyone ended up expection WoW/EverQuest/GuildWars style seasonal/quarterly full-fledged expansions instead of Glorified DLCs like they truly are.

    if the Leaked slide of the initial framework for the game’s various releases is at all accurate…

    Destiny & Taken King((Plague of Darkness on the slide)) were both full-fledged, supported retail releases, the Base Game and the Expansion, whilst the 4 DLC packs on the slide were labeled Episodes, 1,2,3,&4.

    This “Episode” title for the DLCs, fits to how House of Wolves and Dark Below both felt like tv/movie episodes/cinematics or like mini-movies that used to be shown sometimes on tv or sometimes were shown in the old days as lead in teasers to the “feature” film of the evening, similar to how the music industry still to this day has “opening acts” “featured performers” or “guests” and then the “headlining act” of the evening.

    If you look at it that way, the way it was likely intended to be looked at it, House of Wolves is a very good self-contained “Episode” with about the right amount of content one would expect to find in such an episode.

    the issues were everyone has been calling them expansions or dlc, even dlc packs often depending on the game have a higher quality and standard of content then dark below had by a considerable amount and sometimes more then what house of wolves had as well. calling them an expansion does them and the game and the community a total disservice, and even calling them a dlc almost does.

    the other issue with them was at 20 dollars each, they were priced more like a dlc bordering on an expansion then they were an episode. i feel this is because their pricing was likely established either before the game launched or shortly thereafter when it initially only had about 5 million players.

    if they had known they would have had 20 million registered players by the time house of wolves launched and that both house of wolves and taken king would bring in a large amount of more players, and known that they would go from september 2014 with 0 players, jumping to 5 million, then 16 million, then 20 million by April/May 2015 and continue to grow, i have a feeling that it would have made a huge difference on the pricing of that content and that each “episode” would be more along the lines of the 10-15 dollar pricing you would ordinarily expect for such content.

    they priced “aggressively” because they had no real certain idea how the franchise was going to perform, so they priced in such away to make as much money as possible without setting the price so high that it would obviously register to the general public as way to high and thus drive too many people away.

    this goes back to the “investment” strategy again.. a game developer wants some barrier to entry because its obviously a business and there to make money and a barrier generates interest, but at the same time its a fine line to tread and very delicate balance from a business point of view, because if you tread to close to that line or cross it, you invalidate your other goals which are keeping your players/customers happy, word of mouth advertising of your game/product, repeat business from current players, new players willingly coming on board, etcetera, plus you also don’t want to set the price so high you price too large a group of potential customers out of being able to access your product either.

    Most people do not know it, but there is almost an entire underground industry throughout entertainment and manufacturing and service industry businesses all trying to study/research and find out how much people can afford to pay, how much people are willing to pay, how much people want to pay, and on what people expect to be delivered for free or relatively low cost, and what content/products people actually value intrinsically regardless of their tangible physical value and are therefore willing to pay more money for even when they dont always realize its something they are willing to pay more money for. there are seriously people in business and marketing and public relations and advertising whose sole job since the 1920s or 1950s if not earlier is essentially to find out the answers to those sorts of questions. big companies sometimes commission them or industry lobbies or groups of smaller companies, or sometimes a small company just pays a set fee for access to the final information tailored to their needs or their industry.

    this type of thing is where the “market research” industry sprang up from and it also ties into how the pollsters continue to be funded and successful as well.

    but so yes before i get too far gone on another tangent, basically the dlcs we get throughout the year are not really expansions and barely even dlcs, they so far have been more like episodes such as the model used by games like Adera for Microsoft Windows 8 which i’ve played, or games like Life is Strange for Xbox ONE-which i’ve purchased a week or two ago but havent pulled myself from Destiny to start playing it yet, lol.

    I think the whole community will be better off if we look at the regularly releasing dlcs for Destiny in that light, with those expectations, and are occasionally surprised by a dlc with extra content in it making it a full dlc rather then an episode, then if we continue to expect massive expansions like taken king every 2-3 months, which is only going to lead to more people getting mad and quitting and raging all over the internet if that is what they expect.

    Bungie would likely have to double in size yet again to be a 500-600 person studio instead of 200-300 it currently is in order to be able to deliver that much content of a quality they are used to putting out and known for, and being forcefed that much content every 2-3 months would rapidly end up making people complain the game was being shoved down their throats and other such complaints.

    Despite all the complaints they are currently getting, Bungie is very close to finding a good balance with Destiny. i like getting major expansions every year or so in between full game releases with additional content now and then.

    and now instead of having to pay 20 dollars per episode, maybe we will get them for free or only 5-10 dollars each since there are microtransactions now. 🙂

    60 dollar game with a couple 5-10 dollar each add-ons a couple times a year and once a year or so a full 30-40 dollar expansion, and the ability to buy cosmetic/goof-off/just for kicks items now and then whenever you happen to have some extra money? that sounds wonderful to me and like a responsible pricing model and great well made game to me.

    i would prefer the base game to be closer to 50 each time, and the episodes 5-10 instead of 10-20, and the expansions 20-30 instead of 30-40 sure, but beggars can’t be choosers as they say, lol.

    fact is back in 1998-2000 Nintendo 64 Game Cartridges averaged 49.99-59.99 retail price for new releases, and now 15-20 years later, Game Discs and Game Downloads average about the same price range. this despite the general inflation rate being 3-8% a year during that time frame, and the cost of groceries and eating out at restaurants all skyrocketing far faster then that, yet Games have actually came down in price given we now expect better games with better graphics and more content for that same 50-60 dollar price-point.

    so really even with the model Destiny is using so far, we still come out winners with a great game in the end, and that is what people should really focus on and get behind. They should be focusing on making sure the industry doesn’t go any higher or trend towards the rip-off/scam-artist/fly-by-night/borderline illegal the justice department should come knock on your door and shut you down in the middle of the night business model a lot of the online games now known commonly as “free-to-play” or “pay-to-win” games typically use… too many people have been sucked in by that business model because of games that seem like a good concept or because of having easily addicted or gullible personalities, and the success of this games is making the traditional gaming industry have a hard time justifying maintaining their business models to the mega corporations corporate partners and parent companies, when most of those companies are just like the online game companies, they want as much money as they can get yesterday if they can find a time machine to get it yesterday instead of right this second/now, lol.

    so really instead of complaining so much about traditional gaming business models, we need to make sure traditional gaming survives in a recognizable form and doesn’t go the way of video arcade parlors and dinosaurs only to be replaced with a world where you can only find games online and the games you find online have less entertainment value and content then the fruit flavored disguised gum dispenser slot machines of the prohibition era.

  • Dusty

    Nice! My “Expansion Pass” wasn’t actually an “Expansion Pass” … how noble of you to admit that a year after I bought it!


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