Loot boxes make money. This is still the unfortunately reality of things despite the absolutely massive backlash that hit the likes of EA and Activision six months ago. Despite everything; despite the massive outcry and governmental investigations into this slimey practice, gamers are still buying loot boxes frequently enough to make them worth all the trouble they cause. They’re still in Overwatch, PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds is still developing theirs and now Bungie has unveiled yet another type of loot box to Destiny 2 as their response to the massive outcry against their baffling insistence on walling-off much of the game’s gear behind RNG loot boxes. The developer has even gone on-record to acknowledge fans’ dislike of the loot boxes and promised to explore ways to improve Eververse for players. Yet here they are with another loot box; they either don’t have any idea what the issue is or they think they’re going to make a lot of money from it. With Destiny 2 in such a sorry state, they’ll need to make that money fast.
Bungie has received massive amounts of criticism ever since Destiny 2 launched and they’re now poised to launch the expansion that will either make or break the game moving forward. They need Destiny 2: Warmind to be a success. They need it to convince players to come back and get invested in the game again. If neither of those things happen, then they’re going to have a hard time getting anyone to fork over more cash (probably forty dollars) for their major expansion coming this fall. Warmind might not be Destiny 2’s true final chance, but one would think that Bungie would still be doing everything it can to show gamers that they’re committed to improving the game, and that they’re eager correct the multitude of mistakes and exploitative policies that have defined its life thus far. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though. Instead of implementing an à la carte system like Fortnite or even just dialing back the cash shop to something closer to how it was in Destiny 1, they’re just adding a slightly less random loot box into the mix.
This new loot box is known as a “Prismatic Matrix” and works very much like a package gacha. The Prismatic Matrix has its own pool of ten possible items for players to pull out of it and players can make ten pulls per week. Once the next weekly reset hits, the matrix will refresh with a stock of ten new items. The Prismatic Matrix only awards items players don’t already have, so each pull will award the player with something new. It sounds good at first, but there are a few catches. Players only get one free pull per week and all the others have to be paid for with real money. Players can’t even bank their weekly pulls in order to guarantee themselves something they want because Destiny 2 will only allow players to bank a maximum of three free pulls. This means that the absolute most one could get for free in a week is four items. That…really doesn’t sound like much of an improvement does it? If anything, these boxes will encourage burst spending as overeager players race to make sure they have all the items available for a given week.
While including a loot box that doesn’t award duplicates is better than only having completely random loot boxes, doing so doesn’t take away from the fact that Bungie’s game is still highly encouraging its players to engage with loot boxes instead of actually earning loot. It also doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re still pushing random microtransactions in a game with a sixty dollars price tag and paid DLC. What’s more, they don’t appear to see anything wrong with this.
“Outside of the Prismatic Matrix, players may continue to earn Bright Engrams each time they level up, and they can still purchase these engrams if they want a chance to get everything from the Season 3 catalog. Additionally, we’re increasing the number of items available from Tess each week with Bright Dust, from 14 to 18 items.
We want to continue experimenting and evolving Eververse to improve player experience, and give more paths to earn Eververse rewards. Please give us your feedback once Season 3 begins, as we’re dedicated to improving these systems moving forward.”
The people running Bungie and Activision aren’t stupid. It takes a great deal of smarts and business acumen to successfully run and grow any kind of company; they know exactly what they’re doing. They’re trying to make it sound like they’re doing their fans a favor, but we wouldn’t be seeing this if that were truly the case. If they really wanted to do their consumers a favor, they could do any of the following:
- Make all DLC free and fund it with microtransactions as was originally promised back in Destiny 1.
- Don’t make the DLC free, but make the vast majority of new cosmetics exclusively earn-able rather than purchasable.
- Drop the loot box model and replace it with an à la carte model.
Doing any of these things would help win back the trust and respect of the gaming community, yet they choose to simply tweak the loot boxes they know everyone hates and call it an improvement.
Bungie is not the same developer that created Halo; that much has been clear ever since the early days of Destiny 1. Ever since Destiny 2 was announced, though, it’s as if they’re not even the same developer that made Destiny 1. The first Destiny had many flaws, as did the company that made it, but Bungie made up for those flaws with real improvements to the game and a passion for it that poured through their announcements, trailers and developer diaries. Fans were willing to stick around because they could feel that passion and the game really did get better.
With Destiny 2 though, it feels like the opposite is true. They’ve been caught lying multiple times, have made little effort to improve their communications with fans and what improvements they do deliver are hampered by the likes of the Prismatic Matrix. Destiny 2 is in deep trouble right now, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Bungie so long as they can keep the remaining players just happy enough to keep buying loot boxes.