Destiny 2’s New Transmog Fix Set To Re-Highlight Transmog’s Original Problem
Yesterday, Bungie admitted defeat when it comes to the concept of Synthstrand, the currency that players had to farm in order to pay for transmog bounties. The currency, as it turned out, was timegated, meaning it would only drop every 2-3 minutes in combat, no matter how many enemies you killed, which resulted in something like 5 hours per transmog bounty afforded. It was pretty absurd, and even someone who plays as avidly as me is falling short of the 30-across-3-characters cap this season due to a Synthstrand bottleneck.
Well, now Synthstrand is dead. Bungie has decided they’re not increasing drop rates, they’re killing it off entirely. Transmog bounties will now cost 10,000 glimmer each, which is much easier to farm through gameplay, or it takes two seconds to exchange materials at Spider for that much. It effectively cuts out that entire 50-150 hour part of the grind, which is certainly good news.
This of course, now leads back to the original problem that everyone had with transmog when it was announced. Given that there’s no more pre-grind for the bounties, and the bounties themselves don’t take all that much time, it will now be exceptionally easy to hit the cap of 10 per character each season.
The problem? The only way to get over that is to pay Bungie $10 per set of armor transmogged as a microtransaction. For fashion fans who want access to most or all of their collection to be available as options, it’s not just a long grind ahead, it’s an impossible one. On average, between seasons and expansions, Bungie adds at least 2+ sets of armor a season, meaning even just staying current would take all your freebies, and forget going back in time to add the dozens and dozens of sets that are already available for transmog. It’s just not possible, so you’d have to pay.
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The cap is the problem now, as it was before we know about the absurd Synthstrand grind, which ended up being more pressing. This season didn’t feel so bad because we got a bunch of free instant transmogs from the intro to the system, but there’s nothing to indicate that’s going to continue, nor that Bungie is going to take fan suggestions and put transmog items in the season pass (outside of the new ornament set itself).
To me, the whole transmog monetization system reminds me of when Bungie tried to make consumable shaders a thing in D2 vanilla, with the idea to presumably drive Eververse sales when the game launched or increase endgame content farming. Run out of shaders? Gamble for more in Bright Engrams or farm a raid for another batch. This was before collections, and way before Bungie made them permanent unlocks again. It was a bad monetization/farm system then, and now in 2021, transmog is a bad monetization/farm system today.
Transmog could simply be further integrated into the in-game economy with one of the many currencies that are sitting around being useless. Other games simply charge either nothing, or some sort of in-game currency for transmog, and it’s not monetized at all. While I will always concede that Bungie needs revenue streams to keep supporting the game, we also have to keep in mind that Bungie is selling at least $100 in ornament armor sets every single season already, one from Eververse at season launch, one for a holiday event and then the one in the $10 battle pass you can’t get any other way. And then they’re charging $10 for every full set of armor you want to transmog over the cap of two per season, or 10 pieces total. Even with the Synthstrand grind gone, this is still bad.
In a perfect world, there would be no cap, but if we’re compromising, either the cap should be raised or more instant, free transmogs should be made available in-game, or at the very least, embedded in the battle pass which most seasonal players will already own.
Transmog is better with Synthstrand dead, but it isn’t fixed. And until further progress is made, this is just a flashback to four years of messing around until we turned consumable shaders into permanent unlocks again.