After months of waiting, Bungie is dropping a sizable content update for Destiny next week in the form of the April Update which features a new Strike and updated Taken versions of the Winter’s Run Strike and the Prison of Elders. It also brings in new armor, gear, some customization for said armor and gear in the form of “Chroma” and a Light level increase to 335 (from 320).
To earn some of that gear, you’ll need to get one of the new Sterling Treasure boxes. You can acquire three of these by playing the new Level 41 Prison of Elders, one round of the weekly Crucible playlist and logging in on the weekly reset. Aside from the three boxes you can earn just by playing, you can also buy Sterling Treasures from Eververse, the microstransaction store at the Tower. This last source of the new hotness is giving the Destiny community a bit of pause.
When microtransactions were introduced to Destiny as a way of funding further free updates to the game (which hasn’t really panned out until now), players feared that pay-to-win mechanics were going to be introduced via this system instead of just having it be focused on cosmetic additions. With the Sterling Treasure you have a guarantee to receive one new piece of gear, with a possible chance of getting some other items including reputation boosters. Since you can get gear from these boxes and you can pay for them, does this make it pay-to-win?
Not really. All of the armor that drops from the Sterling Treasure boxes comes in at a whopping three Light. Yes, three, out of the new maximum of 335. To upgrade your armor to a usable state, you need to Infuse it with the gear you’ll be earning from the end-game activities (Infusion is now 1:1, making this process a bit easier) so you still need to actually play the game.
While the gear may drop at a very low Light level, Sterling Treasures can give out reputation boosters that increases your faction rep gain for a period of time, and each new level with a faction will reward you with a package that will have higher Light level weapons and armor. So is that pay-to-win? Again, not really, although this is more on that end.
The reputation boosters are not guaranteed to drop from the Sterling Treasures like the armor sets are, so even if you buy a bunch of Sterling Treasures hoping for a booster it’s not a sure thing that you will get one. While I don’t doubt there are some people out there who are willing to shell out an obscene amount of cash until they snag what they’re looking for, I imagine this won’t upset the game balance too much especially since the normal reputation gains for activities are being increased for most factions (Queen’s Wrath and Crota’s Bane are the only exceptions) so even without a booster leveling factions will be much quicker than before.
It’s important for communities to act as watch dogs for their games, as exemplified by what happened with Payday 2 and its introduction of actual pay-to-win microtransactions (I’m going to link to the video Eddy wrote for The Know about this because I’m a shill). It’s also important for communities not to cry wolf about pay-to-win every time a developer adds things for purchase after launch.
While the Sterling Treasures may be the start of a very slippery slope, we’re not there quite yet. If people get into histrionics every time something changes, eventually the greater player base becomes immune to the warning signs and that’s when the actual pay-to-win changes slip in.
What do you guys think about this? Are the Sterling Treasures actually pay-to-win, or just terrible harbingers of the future?