The King, Taken: How Bungie Ripped Off Its Most Loyal Fans

A case study in the mighty falling

If you’re not familiar with Bungie, the original creators of the Halo series, and most recently, their MMO-come-FPS Destiny, I daresay you’ve been living under the video game equivalent of a rock. Destiny takes the better parts of a Halo-esque world design, mixes it with a Borderlands-like loot system, and serves up some deliciousness that is now one of the most fun experiences available on the modern console generations.

At least, that was the case until their latest expansion, “The Taken King” (known as TTK).

How Bungie did it

TTK is the third of three expansion packs, following two smaller ones, “The Dark Below” and “House of Wolves”. Unlike the last few expansions, TTK was launched in celebration of Destiny’s second year in operation to some fanfare, both in game and out of game1. It brought sweeping changes to the game’s loot and leveling system, addressing a great deal of player complaints and making it easier and less frustrating for newer players to get into the game.

Indeed, if you have not played Destiny yet, I’d suggest going down to your local used games store and picking up a copy. You don’t need any separate purchases to enjoy the full game, if you are not an existing player.

..And this is exactly where the angst comes from: If you are an existing player, one that’s been through the first year’s numerous server issues2, Bungie has extended a well and hardy “thanks for the money, bitch!” in your direction.

Among the positive changes introduced by TTK, there’s a great steaming pile of suck included for the loyalists. If you haven’t bought the expansion:

  • New content like emotes and unique weapons are completely unavailable unless you purchased the $80 collector’s edition
  • The main multiplayer playlists were taken away from existing players who have not purchased the DLC. 3
  • Weapons had their stats reset - so that much of player’s already upgraded gear is now useless.
  • Your max level is capped at 34, if you wanted to start a new character.
  • Vendors no longer sell the original legendary content.
  • Legendary marks (the currency used to buy those items) cannot be earned.
  • Timed missions (daily/weekly) missions now have their minimum levels set beyond 34, meaning you can’t access them at all.
  • DLC maps you already bought with the previous two expansions are now unplayable

Effectively, the moment TTK launched, existing players of the game lost access to a vast swathe of the game’s content.

While the practice of taking things away from people who’ve already paid for it is not exactly new, (Sony did it with the PlayStation 3’s Other OS feature), it’s rather new in the field of standalone games. It’s also detestable, downright fraudulent, and if this kind of behavior keeps up, expect enough people to get annoyed to bring lawsuits and regulators into the mix. The idea that anyone should be forced to cough up $40 to enjoy something they already spent around $100 on is absurd!

Remember how I said earlier that Destiny is a great deal for new players? It is - but keep in mind, Bungie may decide to screw you the same ways many of us have already been screwed. Keep that in mind before giving them any money whatsoever - and this is why I suggest buying the game used.

And there you have it - Bungie, makers of Halo, one of the most beloved series in video game history, falling victim to the same greed, deception, and arrogance as other fine companies such as Activision and Zynga.

How the mighty have fallen.

  1. Actually, as of this article, there’s still a promotion happening where you can get cans of Red Bull, festooned with all manner of Destiny symbolism, with a pull tab containing a code, good for an item that boosts in-game experience. [return]
  2. Personally, I couldn’t even play the game for roughly the first month of purchase. Character creation not sticking, being forced to repeat the introductory mission multiple times… it was tough. I almost took the game back after the first week. [return]
  3. The existing pre-TTK maps were put into a “secondary” playlist, one with greatly reduced loot capacity. [return]
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