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Bungie and the Destiny 2 playerbase are doing some soul-searching after a traumatic week of mass layoffs and (unconfirmed but definitely happening) delays. Externally and internally, it’s known these layoffs have been triggered by the poor performance of Destiny 2 after this year’s Lightfall expansion, with player engagement down and revenue goals missed by a massive 45%.
The answer to this so far seems to be putting all stock in The Final Shape, the game’s last Light and Darkness era expansion. But with a delay, the declines ahead of that release are bound to accelerate, and it being an “ending,” drop-offs will also happen afterward.
Bungie seems like it’s in an almost impossible position at this point, trying to please Sony, trying to build multiple new games, trying to stabilize playercounts and revenue for Destiny 2, trying to increase employee and player morale in a terrible moment.
And the problem is, I don’t think there really is an answer. At least not one that isn’t extremely drastic.
I was just watching SkillUp’s show Friends Per Second where he had on Datto, Byf and Aztecross, three giants of the Destiny 2 community. When he asked a fairly simple question, what could Bungie do to turn things around from here, specifically after The Final Shape, everyone mostly looked around and shrugged. After years of suggestions, almost everyone is out of meaningful ideas. Better onboarding was one thing brought up, but what that even means seven years in with 50% of the game’s content deleted is unclear.
In the wider community, the proposed “fixes” are impossible, like “just unvault all destinations and raids” like you’re flipping a light switch (ironically, location lighting is a big technical reason why it’s so hard to bring old areas back).
What I keep coming back to is that I do not think there is an answer except for…Destiny 3, something that does not seem to be on the table at all, but it is essentially the only thing that I can see working as a jump start and refresh for the series. And to build that may require a break of (gasp) a couple of years so Bungie can work on it instead of grinding out seasonal episodes or more yearly expansions around the clock.
My fear is that Bungie will stay on the exact same cadence of content release they are on now and it will do nothing to reverse declines. Staying with Destiny 2 indefinitely, all the same problems remain, and you’re not going to get some major surge in player population if some new “saga” launches in 2025, built on the back of 7/8 previous years of content. All the problems will still be there.
I think everyone needs a break. If Bungie was allowed to put Destiny 2 in maintenance mode for a period of time ahead of making a fully new sequel, players could just play as they felt like it without feeling the pressure to “keep up” the way they do now. Bungie could allow its seasonal teams to start working on larger content for a full sequel. And this has to be a real sequel, not just a new D2 expansion that vaults all past content and is called “Destiny 3,” which would probably be the worst of all worlds.
I know this is not how every game does it. WoW and Final Fantasy XIV and such don’t simply “stop,” and yet I don’t know if Destiny can continue this dream of being a full MMO like those games given the live service model it’s adopted where it can’t just return for huge, sweeping expansions, but it needs to be pumping out new content around the clock.
You may say “well if you’re worried about player and revenue falloffs before this, stopping live content delivery would kill everything,” I get that. However, it feels like the kind of drastic step that would be needed if Destiny, or even Bungie, is going to survive in the long term. Maybe they couldn’t have survived a move like that as an independent studio, but this is where they would have to rely on Sony to give them runway to turn things around in their flagship series.
I understand Destiny is a live game, but at a certain point, that works against it as Bungie constantly has to build a road as they’re driving on it. Sony’s studios thrive by being able to take their time in between sprawling single player games, and while sure, it’s a different genre here, if Bungie wants to re-engage players on the whole, a big new start, a clean slate, new classes, new races, a new galaxy even, a place where new players can join on day one and veterans can be excited to return, they should be allowed that chance.
But I don’t think this is happening. From my time spent speaking with former and current Bungie employees during this past week, few seem to know or will share anything happening past the post-Final Shape episodes, and Destiny 3 doesn’t really seem to be coming up in conversation at all. I simply do not believe that even if The Final Shape is good, it will allow for anything other than a very brief surge in players and sales. After that, if we’re still just trying to trudge through years with similar seasonal content and similar expansions built in D2, I don’t think anything ever changes, and the declines will only continue. Sometimes you need drastic action to save a franchise and make sure it’s healthy long term, and as much as I may not want to believe it, I think taking a few years off to craft Destiny 3 as a clean slate for new players and veterans alike is the thing that makes the most sense, as scary as it may be for everyone involved. This current path leads nowhere good.
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