There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Destiny 2 and its inclusion of ‘pay to win’ microtransactions, as well as how the way shaders are sold and used have changed for the worst.
For those unfamiliar with what’s going on, shaders allow you to re-color your gear. In the original game, shaders were applied to all of your armor, and you could switch freely between them. In Destiny 2, however, shaders are now single-use consumables. No matter how you look at it, this isn’t good news. This franchise encourages you to continually upgrade your armor. This happens quite often as you level up, so the shader you just applied could be wasted on something you’ll barely get a chance to use. Want to re-color your next piece of armor? Better get grinding.
Or pull out your wallet.
That’s the largest problem with this whole ‘single-use’ thing in regards to shaders. If you don’t want to grind for them, you can spend real world money in order to obtain them. As a result, it’s reasonable to assume that the very reason this system ever changed in the first place, is so Bungie and Activision could make more money to sell you cosmetic nonsense.
“Shaders are earned through gameplay: leveling, chests, engrams, vendors.” “We expect you’ll be flush w shaders as you continue to play. When you reach Level 20, shaders will drop more often: vendor rewards, destination play, and endgame activities.
“Shaders are now an ongoing reward for playing. Customization will inspire gameplay. Each planet has unique armor and shader rewards. With D2, we want statements like, ‘I want to run the Raid, Trials, or go back to Titan to get more of its Shader’ to be possible.”
So, basically, they’re reiterating what they’ve been saying since the first game: They want everything you collect in these games to have a story behind them, to be memorable. Single-use shaders are a way to keep you playing so you have more great tales to tell.
Anyone with two brain cells to rub together isn’t buying this excuse. This change has been implemented for financial reasons, pure and simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know? But that’s a motto rarely spoken in the business world. Instead, they ask, “How can we make more money out of this?”
You might say, “I don’t care. As long as it’s only cosmetic stuff. They’re entirely optional and don’t affect the game.”
Except they do. They really, really do.
I will take a 5-8 hour game as opposed to something that offers 30, but with 15 hours dedicated to grinding. The latter is done so much these days, ‘grinding’ has become synonymous with ‘content’… but why? Why do developers always bloat their games like this? It’s because they’re trying to strike a balance. They want to make a game’s mechanics fun enough to keep you playing, but the actual content juuuuust boring enough to incentivize you to spend money on stupid shit… like shaders.
And that’s not OK. Leave that ‘grind or pay’ mechanic to crappy mobile games and leave it out of $60 AAA products. Maybe it’s just me, but quality trumps quantity every day of the week. There’s something to be said about games that don’t overstay their welcome. Namely, they won’t unnecessarily drag your gameplay out just to make a little money.
Bright engrams are also an issue, and specifically what’s introduced the whole ‘pay to win’ argument. Bright engrams are essentially loot boxes, and these include mods for armor and weapons. These mods give you additional abilities, such as an increased recharge rate of things you need to perform in combat, faster mobility, quick reloads, better weapon handling, and more. These can all be earned in game, but players also have the option of purchasing bright engrams… meaning they don’t have to earn these abilities, but can buy them instead.
Apologists insist that charging for bright engrams is OK because they don’t have to be bought with real-world money… that you can just earn them in game. That’s missing the point, though. In order to obtain everything you need, it could potentially take you hundreds of in-game hours. Even if it didn’t, someone is paying for a gameplay advantage that you’re still chugging along on to earn. That is the very definition of ‘pay to win’… spending money to get access to stuff sooner so you have an advantage over people.
What’s terrible about all this is that the gaming community can’t even agree whether this practice is OK or not. Some are justifying it, some are condemning it. Either way this game is going to make Activision and Bungie a lot of money, though, and as long as this continues to happen, studios will continue to take advantage of us.
Not to mention lie to us.
Bungie had made it pretty clear that there would never be pay to win items in Destiny. Does that just flit out the window now because this is the sequel? And why do gamers constantly rationalize this nonsense?
I am not entirely opposed to trying Destiny 2 for myself, so I can remain educated on how far the game has progressed since the original launched… but I am a massochist, so I don’t advise it. I also have too many games to play so I don’t foresee it happening. News like ‘pay to win’ is probably the largest ‘Destiny’ repellant I could have come across.