Another day, another big video game crossover. This time it’s Bungie’s online looter shooter, Destiny 2, adding Witcher 3-inspired armor to its digital store. Are you excited? I’m not. In reality, I’m just really tired of every brand mixing together, regardless of whether it makes sense or is needed, as if concocting the world’s worst stew.
On Tuesday, Bungie revealed some new Witcher-inspired skins at a time when the game is currently struggling, and the developers are still recovering from painful layoffs. It’s bad timing to drop such content, but who cares about that? What really matters is making more money, which is the entire point behind crossover skins like this.
Look, I’m no naive fool. I understand that all of the games, movies, books, and TV shows we enjoy are created in large part so companies can make money. I get it. But even most corporate-backed art and entertainment is made by at least a few people who are trying (and not always succeeding) to tell stories or share something of worth with others.
But crossover skins—like that time Resident Evil characters popped up in Monster Hunter, or when “Scarface” became playable in PayDay 2—aren’t created for any other reason but to merge two popular things and make some money. It’s raw capitalism and pandering presented with no filter or excuse. It’s simply a publisher or developer saying, “We took that thing you liked from whatever and crammed its carcass into this other thing you seem to like. Give us…uh, I don’t know…let’s say $20!” These crossover skins remind me of an old Tumblr that cataloged all the horrible “mash-ups” that existed online that were merely two brands mashed into one item in the hopes of making a joke or selling a shirt.
And as someone who is a very boring person when it comes to lore and video game universes, it’s also annoying to see more and more games ruining their independently crafted worlds just so G.I. Joe soldiers or a character from Five Nights at Freddy’s can be flipped into cash for a limited time. I’m tired of this trend not only growing, but becoming normalized.
Am I a stick in the mud because I want my fictional franchises to be separate from each other outside of very special and rare occasions? Maybe, but I don’t care! I’m fine dying on this hill.
I know there will be some people who explain that I don’t have to buy the skins. That I can ignore them. But in games like Destiny or Rainbow Six Siege, these skins are shoved in my face with no option to turn them off. I assume the reason this option doesn’t exist is out of fear. Publishers are probably concerned about all the money that would be lost if people realized “Wait, folks might not see my Rick and Morty outfit?! No sale!” (Shout out to Halo: The Master Chief Collection for adding a “Hide New Skins” option to preserve the classic experience!)
Ultimately, I feel like an old man yelling at the ever-shifting clouds. Publishers are making record amounts of money off selling expensive cosmetic items. So why in the world would they stop adding crossover skins to every video game people are still playing in 2023?
I guess I’ll just have to come up with some headcanon reason why Halo characters are hanging out with Rainbow Six Siege operators. Maybe, uh, the Master Chief outfit is a Halloween costume that the operator’s commander allowed him to wear during missions. Sure. Whatever.