A majority of the recent conversation around Destiny 2 has been the many issues that need to be addressed. From a lack of new content to unwarranted design changes, it can feel that developer Bungie is attempting to drive the game into the ground. To make matters worse, according to Wall Street market analyst Doug Creutz, the developer likely doesn’t have “the ability to pull off” a positive rework of the game and its reputation, which will lead to a decline in players and in market performance for publisher Activision.
“While Call of Duty: WWII clearly had a great holiday, which likely sets up strong franchise live services revenue in 2018, Destiny 2 is struggling right now with player engagement appearing to be on the wane,” Creutz said (via a CNBC report). Creutz outlined four key factors that have supposedly led to Destiny 2‘s downfall, as well as the number of high-profile Twitch streamers leaving the game due to dropped viewership. Unsurprisingly, all points fall within areas the Guardian community has been complaining about since early on in the game’s life, including lack of new features compared to the first game, microtransactions, and Bungie’s choices of how to communicate its decisions.
His first point is Bungie made several overall “design decisions” that made Destiny 2 feel less unique than the first game. While there are several areas in the sequel that feel too reminiscent of Destiny, like the lack of diversity in subclasses, some of the changes that were made actually worsen the game. For example, the weapon categories were changed in Destiny 2 to apparently expand the types of guns players could have in each of the three slots. However, the decision to open things up weapon-wise made the categories feel pointless, as most players would choose to stick with their more powerful secondary weapon over the primary. Bungie has even acknowledged this recently, stating a complete weapon overhaul is in the works to bring some kind of balance.
Second, he references the implementation of microtransactions as “source of player unhappiness.” While in-game currency purchased with real-world money has been a system since the first game, Destiny 2‘s use of the in-game shop, the Eververse, has raised eyebrows for a few months. When new pieces of gear are added to the game, players are told they’ll be available as drops in events, but instead, some have ended up being locked away behind the microtransaction shop. After being criticized for exploiting the system, Bungie revealed it was a decision made with Activision to increase daily revenue, but the developer has since stated the shop will be fine-tuned to not seem so greedy.
Creutz’s final two points both deal with Bungie’s lack of transparency and communication, which has arguably been the largest problem in Guardians’ eyes. Many quiet changes have been made to the game since its launch, with the more noticeable decisions, like removing access to seasonal events from non-DLC owners, forcing Bungie to finally start speaking up. The company has attempted to inform players of future plans through blog posts and apologies, and more recently, game director Christopher Barrett has been responding to players directly on Twitter.
Of course, this analysis is unlikely to shock anyone entrenched in the Destiny 2 community. For months, all news about the game has been driven by the same cycle of uproar from the community and apology from Bungie. As such, it’s not unreasonable to assume the game could slowly alienate its players if things don’t change soon.
Still, it’s far from a sure thing. Creutz is just an analyst, and some have pointed to his earlier predictions about Star Wars Battlefront II, in which he stated the microtransaction controversy around the game would lower EA’s 2018 fiscal estimates. While EA’s stock did dip during the initial backlash, the company seems to have recovered and Battlefront II itself sold just fine.
Destiny 2‘s microtransactions are nowhere as near offensive as Battlefront II‘s, with more of the problem coming down to Bungie needing to step up to the plate and actively implement player feedback. Barrett’s openness on social media has been helping the issue, too, as players have at least seen interest from the development team in hearing new ideas. Destiny 2 and the discourse surrounding it are definitely far from healthy, but there’s still a chance Activision and Bungie can turn things around.
Destiny 2 is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.