Luke Smith Apologizes, Bungie Monetizes

destiny the taken kingThe recent Eurogamer interview with Luke Smith from Bungie was something I recently analyzed and discussed. As I and many others predicted, damage control is already underway. Luke Smith has posted a public apology for the way he handled the interview, and the update actually came a day ahead of schedule. While I appreciate the effort and the courage it takes to apologize, we need to be pay close attention to what he actually apologizes for and what Bungie is attempting to rectify. He says his words rightfully angered fans because it sounded as if Bungie doesn’t care about their most loyal fans. The apology is then followed by the details about how a new $20 bundle will be made available to players who already own the game and want the Collector’s Edition emotes, shaders, and exotic class items. In light of my previous observations, I’m not shocked that Bungie is again focusing on the wrong thing.

Smoke and Money

Yes, give them credit, Bungie saw a lot of people ticked about the lack of options with respect to getting Collector’s Edition perks and they are attempting to fix that. But extending those perks to the fan base and monetizing them isn’t exactly the gesture many were looking for. They are basically turning a huge misstep into an opportunity to make more money from the very people they just frustrated. And the “suggested retail price” that Deej made sure to put in the announcement to justify the price is laughable. The people who bought the Collector’s Edition spent an extra $20 and are getting physical merchandise: a strange coin replica, a collection of relics and artifacts, a limited edition steelbook case, and a weapon schematic poster. So, according to Deej, all of those things have a suggested retail price of $0 since the digital content is now the entirety of the extra $20. It’s like you guys don’t take five minutes to say, “How will this sound or look before we post it?” Did nobody point out that you are charging $20 for content that makes up an incredibly small portion of the extras included in the Collector’s Edition and when compared to physical merchandise seems incredibly disingenuous and dishonest to claim it’s suggest retail price is $20? And honestly, this just adds fuel to the fire.

No Answers

As I already said in my previous post and video, Bungie refuses to engage with the real questions and the real problem. The interview with Eurogamer was about the value of The Taken King content to justify the $40 price point. And because the most insulting part of the interview was the infamous “throw money at the screen” moment, all we get is a chance to do just that, throw more money at Bungie. This apology does nothing to negate anything I previously pointed out. Many on the forums said, “He’s just a lead designer, what did you expect him to say?” I expected him to do what developers and designers have done that I’ve worked with: talk about what he made. Yes, he’s just a lead designer, which is exactly why we should expect him to talk about the content. When pressed on where the value is, he punts, says they are happy with the value and says more information is coming that will excite the fans. This, as I previously said, is incredibly telling about where, in his mind, the value is. He doesn’t say, “The content will be substantial enough to help people connect the $40 to the value.” No, he basically says , “We’ve got incoming hype to get people hyped.”

Let’s imagine something… If you spent a lot of time working on a game that you were going to sell for $100, and people began to press you on why you thought your launch title is worth $100, would you say, “Oh I’ve got more announcements coming soon that will excite you.”? No, you wouldn’t’ answer that way. You would go into detail as to why your game, content, and experience are going to make consumers feel satisfied with their purchase. You would probably make comparisons to other games and explain why the extra money is justified due to the expanded experience or predicted engagement hours. If you answered questions about the value of your seemingly overpriced game with statements about more information coming soon, many would rightly think you don’t have an adequate answer at the time. Why? Because it’s completely nonsensical to say you’ve arrived at a price point on your product and then in the next breath say you have more information coming as to why it’s at that price. Why don’t you have the information now? What information was used to establish the price point to begin with?

The interview was just basic straightforward questions about price and value that a lead designer should have had no problem answering. Many thought the interviewer was being mean or that Luke Smith wasn’t equipped to give good answers. I think these people are grasping for a reason to defend another instance where no significant information was given and direct questions that many in the community are asking went unanswered.

We Await Your Reply

Bungie keeps saying more information is coming. Fine. We are all waiting. I said before E3 that if they didn’t have solid details to give the community about how big The Taken King was going to be and why it was worth $40 that we should all be concerned. After E3 I was pretty concerned, then the interview came, and I was worried, then they decided to charge $20 for in game content, and I’m just bewildered. So we will see, Bungie, can you answer straightforward questions about the pricing of your content? Can you go into detail as to why the $40 price point is justified? When consumers ask why something costs a certain price it’s your job to sell it. So do what you’re good at, Bungie. Sell us. You sold millions of us last year with great success, but this time it’s going to take information, instead of hype, or many will walk away.

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