‘Destiny’ Will Continue Paid Expansions In Addition To Microtransactions, Says Activision CEO

Destiny players on PlayStation and Xbox got their first taste of the kind of content that the introduction of microtransactions can bring with the Festival of the Lost event. That doesn’t mean the paid DLC expansions are going away, as Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg explained in a quarterly earnings call Tuesday.

“I think they’re already co-existing,” Hirshberg said when asked by an analyst about microtransaction and paid DLC (via GameSpot). “We had a full year of expansions to the game that have been very well received and sold quite well. More recently, you’ve seen us introduce smaller, in-game purchases that allow people to customize their experience and express themselves; those have been very well received and have sold well also. I think we’ve already shown that DLC and microtransactions can co-exist and that our community is hungry for more great content.”

Unfortunately, that answer does not clarify if there will be interim paid DLC releases on the level of The Dark Below and House of Wolves prior to the next major Destiny expansion in 2016 as there was in Year One. Hirshberg was just as coy with his phrasing when asked about shifts in strategy.

“As far as any shifts in strategy, I don’t have any announcements today, but I think we have a lot of options at our disposal,” he said. “And the reason for that of course is that we have such great engagement with this game.”

Destiny Sleeper Simulant (PlayStation, Xbox)
Activision, of course, isn’t going to make any big Destiny announcements on a boring earnings call. That’s what it and Bungie employ an army of public relations people to do. So the question becomes exactly what is in store for the game with expansions. For that, let’s go back to the original official announcement for the Eververse Trading Company.

“Our plan is to use these new items to bolster the service provided by our live team for another full year, as they grow and create more robust and engaging events that we’ll announce later this year,” Bungie Community Manager David “Deej” Dague wrote. “It has been, and continues to be, our goal to deliver updates to the game. Going forward, our live team is also looking to grow beyond vital updates and improvements to focus on world events, experiences, and feature requests.”

The “live team” is the development group that supports the day to day operations of Destiny. So, the microtransactions will support events like Festival of the Lost and these events will grow bigger and bigger as revenue from dance emotes and other items pours in and Bungie becomes more experienced at developing and deploying these events. How big these events get is the question.

That still leaves open the question on if Bungie plans to release paid DLC. According to sources in Kotaku’s original report on microtransactions, those are not happening.

“Bungie is planning on giving out quests and missions for free, sources say. This will likely involve big drops every few months until the fall of 2016 but could also include trickles of smaller stuff throughout the year,” Kotaku’s Jason Schreir wrote.

“That means the game’s next paid expansion will be Destiny 2 in the fall of 2016, as has been known for a while now. That’ll be $60.”

Destiny Iron Banner Gear (PlayStation, Xbox)
Again, Bungie has not announced any paid DLC releases over the next year yet, nor has it advertised a Season Pass for DLC releases like it did with The Dark Below and House of Wolves in Destiny Year One. If Bungie is going with the yearly paid DLC release cycle with more frequent free DLC updates and feature improvements, it will be an interesting test to watch.

Destiny player involvement is at its highest currently with more than 25 million registered players and is up five million players over the past three months, according to an Activision third quarter 2015 earnings press release. Bungie will need to provide a consistent flow of content to keep players engaged, if it is indeed waiting a year for a major paid expansion. The Festival of the Lost is a good start and players buying microtransactions at a prodigious rate, but the content will need to get bigger as players are quickly wearing out the content introduced with The Taken King barely a month later.

[Image via Bungie]