An upcoming update to Destiny — Bungie's hybrid shooter-slash-MMORPG — is adding microtransactions so players can buy in-game items with real-world money. Players will be able to buy a new in-game currency, called "silver," with cash from either Xbox Live or PSN stores. That silver can then be taken to a specific vendor in Destiny's social area, and spent on new dances, gestures, and other emotes for your characters.
Destiny developer Bungie has released three large expansion packs for varying prices since the game's launch in September 2014, but this marks the first time that you'll be able to buy single items from inside the game with real money. It's not yet clear how much silver will cost, but Bungie says it's depositing a chunk of the currency into existing player accounts so they can buy one or two of the 18 new gestures for free.
Bungie is giving players some of the new currency for free
The vast majority of MMOs now feature microtransactions in some regard, but the danger for players is when microtransactions enable a "pay-to-win" structure where those who drop the most cash on in-game stores have access to weapons, armor, and items that give them an advantage in head-to-head battles against others. But in its latest community update, Bungie makes it clear that these items are for cosmetic purposes only, saying that players who don't spend a cent on the new emotes won't be at a disadvantage. "You'll still receive updates to the game, and you won't lose a Crucible encounter or fail to clear a Raid because you didn't have the right Eververse Trading Company emote equipped," Bungie community liaison DeeJ writes.
Destiny has always been a difficult game to categorize, but by selling non-essential collector's items for money, Bungie is clearly aping the approach used by many PC massively multiplayer games. World of Warcraft started to allow players to purchase pets, mounts, and other cosmetic items for money years ago, and wildly successful MOBAs like Dota 2 and League of Legends have made their creators buckets of cash by selling character skins.
Have never had a problem with cosmetic microtransaction items in any game. If we ever see power being sold, that's a much different story.— Not Scary Datto (@DattosDestiny) October 5, 2015
The new addition has been viewed with wary positivity from prominent players such as Datto, but Bungie may still face something of a backlash from a playerbase that doesn't like to feel left out. A special $70 collector's edition of Destiny — including the original game, its first two expansions, and the recently released Taken King overhaul — came with new dance emotes for the game's three classes. After pressure from existing players who didn't want to re-buy things they already owned, Bungie relented, allowing the emotes (and a few new weapons that also came with the collector's edition) to be bought as part of a $20 digital add-on.
In addition to changing how some items are purchased, Kotaku reports that Bungie is also altering how it updates Destiny, moving away from large chunks of DLC released at specific points in the year and towards a trickle of updates that add quests and missions for free. Sources told the site that players should expect "big drops" of new content every few months alongside smaller additions, until Destiny 2, the next "expansion" to the game, due to see release in fall 2016.