In last week’s Bungie update, Deej cleared up a couple questions from the community (thanks to Datto) and one of those questions has turned into a bit of a hot topic over the weekend. The armor that is found in the Sterling Treasure packs, which can be purchased from Tess, does have random rolls when the pack is opened. That’s a curious decision, and has had a good chunk of the community asking – is this pay-for-power? So let’s talk a little about it.
Ultimately, if you boil this down to the nitty gritty, it is technically pay-for-power. You are trading real world money, for in-game items that have Light levels on them. That’s pay-for-power. However, if you actually look at the way it’s implemented, it’s not so much pay-for-power as it is pay-for-potential. Armor perks, while useful, aren’t really as important as getting a good weapon roll. That’s because in PvP, most of the armor talents don’t really provide a huge impact. Increased melee or grenade energy on kills is only on minions of darkness, the ammo increases from those perks really only provide minor increases to power, and most of the orb based perks are so situational that they aren’t super important. There are a couple of talents that do provide PvP power – reload speed increases, extra heavy ammo, and the elemental armor boosts can all help get you a few more potential kills. So in that regard, the rolls on the Taken armor or Tron armor are important. Where I think people were maybe worried was in PvE.
In the PvE game, armor talents become a lot more important. You try to roll the right ammo perks, reload skill, energy boosters and health regenerators. With that basis, I understand why people were worried about the potential pay-for-power impact from microtransactions. But Bungie did a sneaky thing to combat that – they changed the infusion process. Because it’s a lossless system now, pretty much any armor is now end-game armor. Since the Sterling Treasure armor drops at three Light, you already need to have higher level armor to infuse into it. So even if you spend a bunch of money on the packs and manage a God roll, if you don’t have armor that’s already relevant, your new gear is useless. So in that way, it isn’t actually pay-for-power. It’s pay-for-potential, as well as pay for kickass looking Taken armor. You need to already be at a level to complete the end-game activities in order to make those new armor pieces useful. It’s really more of a way for Bungie to have armor customization options available for purchase. I look at the Spektar and Desolate armors more like Shaders – they’re more designed as customization/cosmetic items. Bungie doesn’t have a way to put in collections or things along the lines of armor skins, at least not in Destiny itself. I see this as a trial run for those sort of things in the full sequel next year.
At the end of the day, the Sterling Treasures aren’t game-breaking items. They’re shortcuts more than anything. They offer people who want the new armor sets a way to bypass the time constrains and get them, without giving them immediately useful items. They are about as close to that line as I think they should be, at least I hope they won’t go any closer to that pay-for-power line. As long as they stay clear from weapons, I think they’ll be alright in Destiny – at least the first game. There’s still a lot of time for Destiny to evolve and grow – this is Bungie experimenting with ideas and seeing what works. We’ll see how well it works if it sticks around for the future.