Big budget games walk a very fine tightrope. They take incredible funding to produce, and need to make that all back and then some.
As technology has advanced, consumer demands have grown, and the amount of funding that games require has skyrocketed. AAA, big budget games can't be made by a couple of Asian men in a garage with a calculator anymore. They need entire teams now. Departments, even. More people are involved in these projects than there are living in the state of Wyoming.
But there's only so much one person can pay for a video game. This is where things get a little murky. How much is too much? Does it differ between games? When we pay the full price of a game, what are we even paying for? Are paid DLC and microtransactions acceptable, and if so, to what degree?
These are all very important questions we need to consider. Unless you're Activision, because in that case, it doesn't fucking matter. Those fucking idiots will eat up your shit regardless. Ha ha, fuck you consumer. This is what you get for trying to have fun and joining the hype. That should teach you to ever be excited about a video game again.
Destiny has been one of the most influential titles of the new generation of consoles. The MMO-lite style has gone on to inspire a number of titles in similar fashion, and the industry has been forever changed by it. Not the genre, though. Not just the genre, at least. No, the most inspiring thing about Destiny has been its business model.
The MMO genre was pretty big in the past, and titles like World of Warcraft have dominated the wallets of many. You'd be surprised how many people will pay just to have virtual friends and pretend to be a horny elf on the internet. And though they've fallen out of style, the industry has learned. They've learned how many times you're willing to pay for a game that you already own, and they're bringing those business models over. Adapting them, perfecting them.
Since Destiny's launch, people have had to pay quite a bit just to experience the whole game. A full $60 game, more if you reserved one of the special editions. Two $20 expansions in its first year, bringing the total up to $100 for the first year alone. But if you wanted to play more the year after, you'd need to pay $40 for that expansion, and $30 the year after that for a grand total of $170 on game content alone, though the number can certainly be higher depending on which versions people bought and if they'd given in to any of the microtransactions that were slowly introduced, before being violently stuffed down the throats of anyone trying to play the game.
But we haven't even touched on what the game even is yet. Not that it really matters to the people that made the game.
Destiny is an RPG shooter hybrid, mixing the fun of MMORPG games with guns and space, but toned down enough to work on a console. A space fantasy epic, Destiny had a lot going for it. It was ambitious, it was new and different. It was developed by Bungie, the Halo people, for the new Xbox One and PS4. Sure, it was on Xbox 360 and PS3 too, but that was only because people would still pay money for the game on those consoles. It was really the real start of the next generation. Halo is dying anyway, we needed something to take its place.
It wasn't just space though. It was space fantasy. With space wizards and shit. Like if someone just took World of Warcraft, but pushed it into space. It was gonna be like a real MMO, with a grand story and in-depth lore. There was a 10 year plan. 10 whole years of epic space wizard lore.
The real tragedy though, is that the game wasn't actually too bad. Flawed, and definitely a ghost of what it could have been. But you can see faint hints of the game's ambition, somewhere between the microtransactions and endless, mindless grinding.
Destiny is a mess. It could have been a full-fledged RPG, and yet it was both stretched out to become an MMO and then stunted to be a "lite MMO". The mechanics are all fairly solid, it feels like Halo from a shooting standpoint, and the RPG mechanics aren't super in-depth but there's lots of numbers involved. Numbers mean RPG, right?
And yet at the end of the day, Destiny is still a fairly empty game. A problem that's partially remedied by the expansions, but not even. Because while they can definitely add content, they can't give Destiny the soul that's been stolen from it. The tone of the gameplay, the attitude the game has.
Destiny is the avoidance of a game. Destiny doesn't want you to play, it doesn't want you to have fun. The grind is not fun in Destiny, but that's all there is. The microtransactions are there for you to skip the grind, so you can jump right to the front of the line to join the better grind. The grind that all of the cool kids are playing, grinding for whatever grind comes after that one.
Hey guys, don't play Destiny. Yeah, the people that made this game, they don't want you to. Just pay them to skip the game. It's really not that good anyway, and it takes so long just to level up. Just don't play it. You should buy it and play with your friends, but like, just skip all the boring parts.
There are high points to Destiny. The biggest pay-offs are the raids, though there aren't too many and they're mostly the stuff you'd have to buy separately in an expansion. But they are there. And in order to get that far, you'll need to grind until you've hit the right level, playing through the not-so-great parts of Destiny until you've worked your way up that far. Unless you'd rather just take the easy route and pay for the ability to play.
The mechanics have been nailed in better, less expensive games in the past. Borderlands is a fantastic shoot and loot hybrid RPG kind of series, one that doesn't lock you into paying for the same game multiple times or even playing online. Abundant with content, that doesn't punish you for wanting to play it. And Borderlands, wildly enough, has a more cohesive plot. That whole 10 year plan thing? Yeah. there's no story. All that lore? Yeah, it's in there. Somewhere. You could probably find it if you dig around, read a couple paragraphs. There's space wizards and things.
Little secret for you, anyone could write a Destiny. You just need to know which words sound cool and combine them. There's probably some kind of online generators you could use too. It doesn't even need to make sense, it's only an MMO. Here, yall mind if I Destiny real quick?
The Council has called for you, Great One, to combat the Ancient and save the planet. The Ancient is an evil that is threatening to destroy the whole galaxy. Please, watch out for the Worms. Worms are an ancient race bent on destroying all of us. Use the Force, save the Watchers. Only you can unite the Kingdom of Moonlight and drive out the Bees of Mercury.
The trick is to capitalize words to make them look important and ominous. Watch out for the Worms. Not just worms, but The Worms.
L O R E.
The game has been out for a while, and you can buy all the content in a collection now for not that much at all. But there lies the biggest problem of all. Was there ever a right time to buy Destiny? Anyone passionate enough to dedicate their time to it would not have waited until the full collection came out to pick it up on sale. If you wanted to ride the hype and have fun with everyone else, you would've had to be first in line to get fucked over along with the whole community.
You don't have the same experience as they do. You don't understand what they felt, you don't get the same enjoyment they do. Was there a time in-between that was a good time? After the first expansion? The second? When there was still some hype, but it would've cost almost three times the cost of a standard game?
Destiny was a game at one point, I'm sure. Someone over at Bungie had a vision. Space wizards and shit. But that person is dead. Men in suits circumcised Destiny, draped the foreskin around a cactus, and charged people to give it a lick. Sure, some people might really enjoy it. And they'd never know the difference.
But Destiny could have been more. It could have been an actually good game, not just something that's fun because that's what the gang is all playing. Because anything can be fun with friends. You can have a good time flushing milk down the toilet if it's with a couple of the lads and everyone's having a good chuckle.
Destiny sets a new precedent for punishing players. Punishing players for jumping on too soon, or too late. Punishing players for trying to play the game without spending more than the standard $60, and punishing players for just wanting to skip the bullshit and have fun. This is what you get for playing Destiny. In a world saturated with all sorts of RPG games, all of which demand a substantial time investment, this is what you get for not giving us more money. Everyone is doing it, come on, don't you want to be a gamer?
Come on, it's fun to ride the hype with your friends. Real gamers are used to this now, every game is doing it. It's just a little $200 and hours of your life you'll never get back. And hey, your progress doesn't carry over either.
But remember, it's not about the destination. It's about the friends you make along the way.