It’s safe to say Destiny 2 hasn’t enjoyed the best of times. Three months after launch, the game leans from issue to issue, destroying any good will it managed to work up in the process. A good portion of its community is (rightly) angry that content originally playable has now been pushed behind a paywall. This hasn’t been helped by Bungie’s poor communication – leading some to lament the developer for not learning from the first game’s failures. Add in complaints that the first major DLC pack for the game is uninspired and dull – and it raises the awkward question, how long can Destiny really continue to disappoint its audiences?
It’s a question that’s hung awkwardly over the franchise since its initial release. Roll back to 2014 and the first Destiny game was insanely hyped. Bungie and Activision gleefully spoke about decade-long plans for content and a story that would be grander than anything the developer had crafted before. From the minds behind Halo, this was a mouth-watering proposition.
Then it all began to go wrong.
It didn’t take long for those promises to ring hollow. Content dried up in the months after launch as the next expansion became a priority. That initial excitement gave way to complaints that the game wasn’t offering enough bang for its buck. Instead of a vibrant platform that kept gamers engaged, the game felt like a waiting stage for the next expansion. Those down months between expansion packs were so agonizing for everyone who wanted to play the game.
This probably goes some way to explaining why Destiny 2’s physical sales were somewhat down on the original. Destiny 2 was a chance to right the ship, put the issues that blighted Destiny 1 to bed and give the franchise a fresh outlook. Yet the three months since launch have been anything but smooth sailing for the game. Bungie and Activision stand on the edge of tarnishing a franchise that seemed once so promising – and they have no one to blame but themselves.
Because really, every problem in Destiny 2 is of their own construction. It’s a developer that’s failed to deliver on its lofty promises. It’s gamers buying a full-priced sequel and realising features were missing wholesale or being placed behind paywalls. Features that were there in the original game were now being returned piece by piece, with the demand for grind or monetary return. This was taken to an amazing new level upon the release of The Curse of Osiris, when prestige raid, trials, and nightfall strikes were pushed behind a $20 paywall – as the game raised the maximum level cap beyond the reach of the base game. To underline that issue, a non-subscription based game has made its end-game effectively unplayable without DLC.
What’s shocking to me is that, despite this open arrogance, gamers continue to invest in it. Despite the clear contempt from a publisher looking to make money any way it can and a developer that’s been coasting on reputation for a good few years now, gamers still insist on showing up to the party. They continue to give Bungie and Activision an out when it comes to these problems. Really I have to wonder why because, controversial opinion, Destiny hasn’t earned that kind of position.
I say this as someone who came into Destiny 1 after the release of the second expansion pack. After hearing long-time players declare “Bungie will get it right” with this one, I made a conscious decision to give the game a fair chance. Yet playing the game was far from the mind-blowing experience that was once promised. It was a grind that demanded repeat playthrough of the same levels. It was a story that wanted to be grand and expansive but ultimately didn’t pay off. It was that potential that was initially so exciting not being fulfilled.
It’s sadder personally because I was so keen to give the franchise a second chance. I haven’t invested in Destiny 2 thus far because I can’t bring myself to put more money into a franchise that doesn’t seem to be looking forward. It seems so enamored with its own perceived excellence that Bungie forgot they have to make a game that truly blows peoples socks off. You can’t test fans loyalty before you’ve earned it, yet Destiny 2 truly tests the limits of fan loyalty.
Why else would Bungie and Activision be so stingy with content? Why else would they seemingly treat audiences with such indifference? That’s not how you build a top franchise in gaming – yet Bungie seems to be coasting on the fact that their name was once a high bar for quality. The initial Halo series was a great elevation of the medium – but that was almost 10 years ago now.
This is why reading through the community boards right now is so painful. It’s clear that fans want to love this universe. They want to see Destiny become what was once promised. There are even large discussions about rebooting the franchise – an attempt by fans to rationalize a way out of the current dead end the series has trapped itself in. It’s unlikely the creative forces over at Bungie would take notice – they’re so tone deaf to the audience they serve that they don’t seemingly care what the reaction is.
Activision and Bungie need to look at the reality they’re creating with their franchise. The damage they’re causing and the players they’re pushing away are the very people who’ve stood by the series thus far. The people who made excuses when content was slow to arrive during Destiny 1. The people who waited months to get Destiny 2, the game they were promised would bring the series back on track. Instead, it’s these gamers who are hurt most by these awkward decisions and short-sighted
As someone who’s watched the series since its initial reveal – I can’t help but be incredibly disappointed by the current state of play. There’s only so long audiences can be made to wait for the game they were promised four years ago. There’s only so much bad blood can pass before gamers are pushed out of the franchise entirely.
In a year where AAA games companies have seemingly gone into business for themselves, it’s Activision and Bungie’s continued mishandling of the Destiny franchise that really bothers me most of all. It shouldn’t be this way. Disappointment and Destiny shouldn’t be tied together – yet the series consistently struggles to shed its negative perception. Audiences deserve better than being treated as a cash cow – it’s a mindset that may have already condemned Destiny 2 to