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Destiny: The Taken King director defends £40 expansion price tag

UPDATE: "Something better" than Collector's Edition perks coming for veteran players, Bungie says.

UPDATE 23/6/15 9.00am: Bungie has responded to fan debate surrounding the exclusive perks found in The Taken King's Collector's Edition with word of "something better" for veteran Destiny players.

Bungie community manager David "Deej" Dague has said that fans should expect details this Thursday in the developer's weekly Destiny blog update.

"Year One players won't get the same perks as people who buy a collector's edition," he told Forbes. "They'll get something better. Tune into the Weekly Update for more."

In several longer responses posted to Bungie's official forum, Deej explained that the studio was planning to discuss how existing players will be recognised - something that Luke Smith touched upon in Eurogamer's original interview below - and also "revisit" Bungie's thinking on the various The Taken King versions.

"I'm catching up on a lot of conversation about The Taken King," Deej wrote. "Please know that we're reading this feedback and taking it as seriously - as we always do. Destiny is a great game because we worked together to make it that way over the course of the past year. That partnership has not changed.

"I understand that you want me to go on record right now with something that will address the disappointment that's being expressed here. I'm going to defer to the Bungie Weekly Update, in which we'll talk more about the things we're doing to celebrate the year-one Guardians who helped us build this community. I'll also revisit our goals in offering different versions of The Taken King. Ever heard the old adage about trying to please everyone?

"The Collector's Edition is mostly sold out, so the people who found that stuff valuable jumped at the chance," Deej added in a separate post. "You'll likely see it sold on eBay for much more than what we're asking. But that's not the point. Right?

"The real conversation here is: What are we doing to honour you, the players who have been bound to Destiny in this first year of action and adventure? I'm glad you asked. I'm going to answer in the Bungie Weekly Update.

"Please stay tuned."

ORIGINAL STORY 22/6/15 7.25pm: Bungie has defended the full-fat £40 price tag of Destiny's upcoming major expansion The Taken King, as well as the fact that fans will have to repurchase the base game and its existing two add-ons to access exclusive content in The Taken King's Collector's Edition.

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The Taken King expansion will launch in three different packages when it arrives this 15th September. It will be available as a £39.99 digital download for players who own the game and existing DLC already or as a disc-based £54.99 Legendary Edition which also contains the base Destiny game and existing DLC so new players can get all of the game's content in one package.

It's not cheap, but then Destiny has an incredibly engaged playerbase who still log on for more than three hours every single day, on average. Which is a lot of hours of play from the content released so far.

But then there's also The Taken King: Collector's Edition, which costs £79.99. This contains a number of physical collectibles and several pieces of exclusive in-game content, including three class-specific emotes and exotic weapons with XP boosts.

It's odd to see something like emotes - which only hardcore fans will really care about - being held back for a version of the game that also requires the purchase (or re-purchase) of the base game and its two add-ons.

Fans reacted in anger that content aimed at their wallets would be exclusive to a version of The Taken King that required they spend money on content they had already paid around £75 for - £40 for the base game and £35 for its DLC expansion pass.

Fans also criticised the fact that The Taken King costs as much as the full Destiny game did upon launch, and the fact that the Legendary Edition catch-up option for new players costs £54.99, meaning that newcomers get all existing content for just £15 when you factor in The Taken King's solo £40 price-tag.

In a wide-ranging discussion on the pricing of Destiny content last week at E3, The Taken King's creative director Luke Smith largely defended Bungie's decisions on the financial outlay required from fans - but also said that the developer would continue to listen to fan feedback.

Eurogamer: So it may seem like a small thing but you're adding exclusive content to the game - three new dance emotes - that players can't get unless they rebuy the main game and the two existing DLCs. Is that right?

Luke Smith: There is no way right now for you to get the new dance emotes without doing that. Those are Collector's Edition exclusive. We've set some stuff aside for that edition specifically to really make it appeal to fans who have engaged with the game already and also to people that will enter the game this autumn.

Eurogamer: Can you see that some fans are confused that you're asking them to buy stuff they already own?

Luke Smith: Yeah, I can totally empathise with those people. But the Collector's Edition is a pretty cool package for people who want to pursue that stuff. Otherwise, surely what you're saying is that you would want to buy them separately, right?

Eurogamer: Well, yeah. I would rather do that - pay a few pounds or dollars or whatever - than spend money on things I already own.

Luke Smith: [Laughs] Well, we have nothing more to talk about regarding your opportunity to spend extra money in Destiny, other than The Taken King and the three versions we've announced.

Eurogamer: Is Bungie considering selling customisation items such as this separately? Or is that against the studio's philosophy for the game?

Luke Smith: Rather than comment on the Bungie philosophy, here's what I'll tell you. If someone made a golf clap emote, I would spend money on that. Like when someone falls in the Vault of Glass. At the moment I bow when I'm trying to mess with them. So... I empathise with some of the things you're saying.

Eurogamer: I feel like you should put some of these things that you are empathising with into practice.

Luke Smith: We have nothing to announce today. We're reading the forums and the reactions to this week's announcements. We will continue to discuss player feedback with respect to the the game and Collector's Edition content.

Eurogamer: Taken King costs £39.99, which is almost same as base game. Does its content justify that?

Luke Smith: I'm going to use American dollars, because British pounds are just foreign to me...

Eurogamer: Literally foreign.

Luke Smith: Indeed, an ocean away. So, purchasers get a big, rich campaign. Fully voiced cinematics and the story of what happens when an angry alien god wages war on a solar system, all with a satisfying conclusion. You also have a new subclass to pursue and unlock. We also have a bunch of new strikes - we're not yet talking about how many - and a new raid. We're showing two new PVP modes and four PVP maps this week, and it's a fairly safe bet we're not done yet showing things off. So I'm fairly excited about the value proposition. We're calling this a major expansion because it is. We're giving people a whole new place to go, that new destination...

Eurogamer: I get that it is big but it is also the same price as the base game. That had four areas rather than one and more missions than the Taken King. Why is it the same price?

Luke Smith: All I can do is answer that with the same thing I just gave you... We're really comfortable with the value we're giving to players this autumn. I believe that once we begin to share more, players will be even more excited. And for existing players it also comes with the Founder's pack with a new Sparrow, shader and emblem.

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Oryx, father of Crota. He isn't too pleased with you.

Eurogamer: Just not the emotes.

Luke Smith: It doesn't because they come with the Collector's Edition.

Eurogamer: Final question on prices -

Luke Smith: Is it also the final question on the emotes?

Eurogamer: I'm not going to mention them again. I can't get them.

Luke Smith: But you can if you buy the Collector's Edition.

Eurogamer: I'm not going to buy the game and the two DLCs all over again.

Luke Smith: Okay, but first I want to poke at you on this a little bit.

Eurogamer: Poke at me?

Luke Smith: You're feeling anxious because you want this exclusive content but you don't know yet how much you want it. The notion of spending this money is making you anxious, I can see it -

Eurogamer: I do want them. I would buy them -

Luke Smith: If I fired up a video right now and showed you the emotes you would throw money at the screen.

Eurogamer: What I'm saying is that fan frustration is not because they don't understand the proposition. It comes regardless of how cool the exclusive content is. The frustration - and mine as a fan - is that the method of acquiring it requires me to re-buy content I bought a year ago.

Luke Smith: [Long pause] It's about value. The player's assessment of the value of the content.

Eurogamer: Final question on prices - The Taken King and everything released so far comes at a significant price reduction for people who want to jump in to Destiny this September. All games do Game of the Year editions now - I understand that, that's not really an issue. But when you look at the reduction involved - it's barely any more than just buying The Taken King solo.

Luke Smith: This autumn we want to have a moment of convergence where players like you and me who are engaged with Destiny can match up with people who are just joining in, who didn't pick the game up last year for one reason or another.

It's also important to remember the temporal valuation of content. If you played during The Dark Below, you were playing when there were Swordbearers everywhere. That's now gone and you can't recapture that now. Some things are being left behind as we move forward. It's the same with House of Wolves, right now, with the Fallen showing up all over the solar system. Those things are going to be less relevant as we move forward and the Taken are everywhere.

We don't have a way to go back in time and experience those things again. So the players who were there can say 'I was here when...' and 'I did it when it was new'.

I wish I had a way of better telling players that I was there back then. That I had a better way of embracing the legacy of my time with the game. This is something that we on the development team talk about all the time. It's really important that we figure out ways to embrace the legacy that players created in the first year... I'm not going to talk about how we're going to do that but it is right in the forefront of our brains. It's missing right now in Destiny.

As for The Taken King itself, Eurogamer got to go hands-on with the expansion at E3 and came away impressed. Look for our hands-on impressions and details of significant improvements to Destiny later this week.

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