Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Destiny: Forget Luke Smith - £40 and $40 are NOT the same thing.



First up, I'm enjoying the game. A little too much, if I'm honest. It's pretty much the only game I've played since Christmas, apart from a little Diablo 3. And as far as shoot-mans games go, mans (and the shooting thereof) is something this game does very, very well.

Also I just got a Gjallarhorn.

But I digress. There have been two expansions so far, and we're heading for the third. The Taken King. Less of an expansion and more an overhaul, judging by the hints being gradually meted out at E3.

Then, this happened:

The Luke Smith interview. To cut a long story short, the fans feel that the Creative Director insulted their intelligence and made it look like Bungie sees us as idiots who will, in his own words 'literally throw money at the screen' for dancing emotes.

The problem is, in all this shit about exclusive bonuses that haven't been announced yet, and value for money over the new content that hasn't been announced yet, and everyone telling everyone else to shut the hell up because nothing's really been announced yet, one problem is remaining un-addressed.

The price has been announced. Or rather two prices have been announced, and they betray a very big problem.

40 dollars is not fucking 40 pounds.

$40 = £25.43

£40 = $62.92.

So we are paying the equivalent of almost $63 for this expansion, purely for being in a different country. Apparently the Australians have it even worse.

We are not saying that the price of the expansion is unreasonable. That's a separate issue. Personally I'd be fine with paying £25 / $40 for The Taken King, as long as the content's good.

What international players are saying is that British people are paying nearly $23/£15 more for exactly the same product, which is absolutely fucking shocking.

The last two expansions - The Dark Below and House of Wolves had the same problem, priced at £20/$20 each. As user gorillathunder pointed out on reddit, tax is often used as an excuse, but the highest rate of sales tax in the UK is only 20%. 

$20 = £12.72

20% of £12.72 = £2.54

£12.72 + £2.54 = £15.26

£15, £20... A fiver's not that much to grumble about. But in the case of The Taken King's price disparity, £15 is the price of one and a half normal expansions in any other game. 

This isn't a case of 'near enough' conversion. This is a massive disparity, and it's ridiculous that someone at Bungie / Activision (probably Activision) thinks they can get away with it.

Eurogamer didn't raise this point in the interview, and I can't help but feel that this point - the one objectively verifiable problem with the pricing - is going to get lost in all the shouting about dance emotes, collector editions and value for money. 

I've seen a few people mention it, but not quote any figures, so I tried to do the googling and lay it out as clearly as possible.

The easiest way to state the problem for Americans is that the difference between 40 dollars and 40 pounds is the equivalent of $23. Even 20% sales tax is only around £5. We are paying the equivalent of $63 for the expansion - a lot more - for absolutely no reason.

But unfortunately, as soon as you bring up pricing problems with The Taken King, people assume you're talking about Luke Smith's comments, or about value for money. An entire nationality of the playerbase is about to get massively ripped off, and nobody's talking about it.

Hell, reddit has consigned any posts discussing the pricing of The Taken King to its own megathread, and the first page of the relevant Bungie.net subforum is, in its entirety, threads about Luke Smith and this one, lone thread full of international customers listing exactly how big the disparities are in their respective countries.

Even Forbes (who are becoming startlingly respectable as a gaming news outlet) are talking mostly about the PR implications for Bungie, and mentions the international disparity only as an afterthought.

So what to do about this? Well, not a tremendous amount, aside from writing to Activision, but they're going to have their hands full dealing with anger over the Luke Smith article. You can try bringing it up with a Bungie employee if you can get into E3, but the response given to Eurogamer was literally "British pounds are just foreign to me."

I doubt we'll be able to vote with our wallets, because the sad thing is Luke Smith is absolutely 100% right. We'll pay anything at this point. Anyone who boycotts the game or quits will be a tiny blip on the radar.

Soo... basically spam this article everywhere? At least then I might be able to afford the overpriced pile of crud...