In the past few weeks leading up to the Christmas shopping season, large gaming companies continue to experience expensive scandals and bad PR. Activision Blizzard has in the recent past been revealed to have had a patent for manipulating matchmaking services in order to produce a false illusion of in-game purchases making the player win more often. In reality, players are just matched up against someone who will beat them – unless they pay to win.
[Activision Patent Matchmaking Pay To Win – Presumably for Call of Duty 2018] :Alt Source:
Fast forward to this month, the patent may have further reaching consequences than originally thought. Destiny 2, released in early September of this year, has reportedly (update: admitted by Bungie) created a video game experience that hides an XP downscale the longer a person plays. In the complete opposite tradition of RPG elements like experience actually go down over time instead of up.
If a player kept playing the same missions repeatedly – they would be earning less per mission as Destiny 2 progresses on. This is especially illogical since later missions will require more leveled up characters, and is essentially just an attempt to force players to play every day for a new set of mundane tasks handed down rather than play their own way. Not to mention the issue of loot-boxes, which we will discuss soon.
It took nearly 10 weeks for this to be discovered by gamers. What other franchises are effected by this greed-driven logic? Which beloved game franchise will be tarnished next?
[Activision Blizzard creates most pointless chart ever]
The original developer of award winning Halo franchise games and creators of Destiny; Bungie, has acknowledged this system as their design choice and finally admitted to what had happened, in at least a minimal ‘corporate-speech’ type of way.
In a statement saying that they were “unhappy with the results” and they agree with fan statements about the XP system Bungie now claimed to have removed the system from the game allowing for XP to be gained at a flat rate – or so we assumed, because their wording wasn’t truly final.
Another problem mentioned earlier is that of the loot-box economy created through Destiny 2’s Engram system. It turns out, while Bungie did indeed remove their XP downscaling system from Destiny 2, they had multiplied the pricing of Bright Engrams.
For those who don’t play the game, all of the hard work of leveling up is essentially just leading to a Lootbox system in which you have no guarantee if you’ll get the items and upgrades you actually want from your XP. Destiny 1 had a similar system, Destiny 2 will now take that a step further to anger many players.
Lootboxes were once welcomed by perhaps naive gamers who did not see the threat of having all XP or even real cash money essentially gambled up for an unknown amount of in-game reward. They’ve recently become a topic under hot fire from the gaming industry and gamer communities alike. Companies who use them going forward should expect push back from gamers.
In simpler terms, the game is denying you pieces of content which you already paid for and forcing you to play pop-goes-the-weasel with hundreds of hours of your life (would’ve been thousands with the XP stealing still undetected) and the solution offered is to instead just pay to win.
It’s safe to say Lootboxes are now considered a scam.
[Blizzard is being dragged down by Activision]
What do the ramifications bring to the Blizzard reputation and brand legacy in the long run? At least in Overwatch, Lootboxes are not used for level-ups but instead are used for cosmetic skins and non-gameplay altering items only.
Many people now believe justified in the early-on belief and rumor that Activision would end up harming Blizzard’s image with corporate actions like what’s happening to Destiny 2. For many gamers, their worst fears about Blizzard are coming true.
[Destiny 2 – 4K Resolution PC Gaming Screenshot – 2017]
As for Bungie, it became clear during the release of Destiny 1 that some of their most passionate creators had a massive difference of opinion with corporate leadership over the in-game micro-transaction mania, overall lack of content, recycling of content, and eventual manipulation of the player.
Many of Bungie’s original great talent have already left the to remain on Halo with 343 Industries or were part of firings / quitting due to creative control struggles and disagreements similar to Infinite Ward staff (another company under Activision management) during Jason West and Vince Zampella’s departure and formation of Respawn Entertainment.
History is repeating itself.