There’s long been a back and forth struggle between players and developers over video game costs and how to effectively monetize while not feeling like a financial burden on players and still providing enough quality content for them to play. Ongoing live games are especially susceptible to this scrutiny. Many players wondering where the line is drawn between what’s funded by the purchase of the base game and where that microtransaction money is going. For Destiny 2, the dev costs of the Zero Hour mission that rewarded players with the Outbreak Perfected Exotic pulse rifle was fully funded by microtransactions. More specifically, it was the sales of ornaments for the Whisper of the Worm sniper rifle that allowed Bungie to develop another secret Exotic mission.
Director Luke Smith revealed this in his Director’s Cut article today, a massive introspective piece looking back at the last six months of Destiny 2’s development and how that applies to what’s coming in the future. It’s a very raw and honest look at game development, and one of the sections talks about the Eververse, Bungie’s microtransaction store for Destiny 2 cosmetics.
Whisper of the Worm is an Exotic sniper rifle that was earned through a secret mission, first appearing in July of 2018. Once players had earned the gun, there were two unique ornaments that changed the appearance of the weapon. Some players scoffed at the price (1000 Silver each, which equates to $10 in real world money), but others—myself included—saw this as a way to tip Bungie for a job well done and get a pretty cool reward for the donation. Purchases of those ornaments allowed Bungie to develop Zero Hour.
As some folks have smartly pointed out, MTX is a big part of our business being a live game. I’m not going to say “MTX funds the studio” or “pays for projects like Shadowkeep” — it doesn’t wholly fund either of those things. But it does help fund ongoing development of Destiny 2, and allows us to fund creative efforts we otherwise couldn’t afford. For example: Whisper of the Worm’s ornaments were successful enough that it paid [dev cost-wise] for the Zero Hour mission/rewards to be constructed (this shit matters!).
Similarly, when Zero Hour was in the rear view and Outbreak Perfected was obtained, there were another two ornaments waiting for players. These are far from the only cosmetics available for purchase in Destiny 2. The currently ongoing Solstice event has plenty of summer-themed items, including a beach ball Ghost shell and the ScootyPuff Jr. of sparrows. Bungie’s been reworking how microtransactions and cosmetics work within the game to allow for more direct purchases (as opposed to relying on Bright Engrams, Destiny 2’s loot boxes), and there will be additional changes headed to Eververse with the launch of New Light and Shadowkeep.
We may have always known that microtransactions fund ongoing development of games, but it’s great to see that put into context. Some of Destiny 2’s best and most well-received content was made possible by microtransactions, and I’m sure much of what we’ll continue to see from the game’s development will also be because Tess Everis set up shop in the Tower. It might not be home yet. There might be some dust to clean and some inventory to reorganize. But in the end, when we want to express ourselves in Destiny 2, Eververse gives us the thumbs up.