I had a totally different post planned for today, but since the news of the Activision and Bungie split was announced yesterday… there really wasn’t another topic that I would be discussing today. I also committed memery last night and cobbled together this… since yeah it is sorta relevant. So the details that we know… in 2010 Bungie entered into a 10 year publishing deal with Activision. Over the last few cycles Activision has been making a point of announcing that Destiny 2 as a franchise has been failing to live up to expectations. Behind the scenes for quite some time Bungie devs have been leaking tidbits about them feeling constrained by that relationship.
So at this point we really don’t know how the split was started… did Bungie buy out the remaining two years of the contract? Did Activision decide that Destiny 2 looked bad on their balance sheet and kicked them to the curb? Bungie learned the lesson with Microsoft and seemingly retained the rights to their intellectual property going into the arrangement with Activision, and as a result it appears that we have a newly liberated Bungie with all of the rights to keep making Destiny 2 and in theory Destiny 3… but I will talk a bit more about that later.
I think the question on a lot of minds is going to be… who’s idea was Tess Everis and the Eververse store… and will this change see the focus on this as a monetization vehicle lessen. In truth I think this was a “both of them” sort of decision and not necessarily something we can really pin entirely on the Activision Evil Empire as it were. Going into Destiny 2 I think Bungie knew they had to have some vehicle for long tailed sales… and this new version of Eververse was their answer to that. Now the shop has vacillated back and forth between being grossly unfair at release… to honestly having the deck stacked greatly in favor of the player in its current state. I talked a bit about my thoughts there in the Bright Engrams Revisited post, but I think we have seen all of the tweaks we are going to see to Eververse.
The hard truth is… there will not be a major game release that lives in the MMO space that does not include some sort of pay for cosmetics or loot box scenario. The fact that Destiny 2 hands those Bright Engrams out like Candy for playing through the content, and the fact that you can break down anything into Dust and pick items up as direct sales during the weekly resets… means to me at least that the system is actually pretty reasonable already. Sure people would prefer to simply cherry pick the items that they want each season… but I am okay with the amount of friction that exists. It gives us a reason to keep checking the store each Tuesday and to keep doing the weekly Eververse Bounties to stockpile bright dust and whatever the cores are called that unlock items from the list.
The other burning question is… who’s decision was it to move away from story driven content? This is another one that I don’t really know the answer to either… but I would tend to land that one more in the lap of Activision, given that they just pushed out a Call of Duty game with no single player story in it. I would love to see them return to story beats each time we get a major update, rather than a purely activity driven focus. I think ultimately we will have to see what Penumbra ends up being like to determine if everything is going to be like the Black Armory going forward or not. With this change however I have a whole bunch of wish list items… some of which are wildly speculative but would be amazing.
Shared Game Saves
If I understand it correctly… the Playstation exclusivity deals were between Activision and Sony… and Bungie was not necessarily a party to them but in turn constantly effected by them. I think what this means in the short term is that soon all of the formerly Playstation exclusive content will trickle down to the other platforms as soon as everything is finalized. What I hope this paves the way for however is a shared save state between all of the platforms. Sure I would love it if all of the platforms could play together at the same time… but as an easier hurdle… I would love it if I could log into my PC characters on the Xbox or PS4 so I can keep playing with friends on those platforms. At this point it would require an account merge system but I could see various ways where that might work.
Since the game largely uses an entitlement system now instead of actual items for everything but Forsaken forward… you could do some sort of a system where you choose a primary account and every other account would simply just copy over the achievements and entitlements. Of course at some point I want the ability to play with my PS4 friends while playing on the PC… and with the consoles moving further towards accepting keyboard and mouse as an input option (something both Xbox and PS4 support in limited ways currently) it might be a reasonable option. At the very least it should be completely fine for any PVE activity… with PVP being the outlier where they might still have a segregated “Console” and “PC” play lists. Look we are setting up a wish list here…. so even if it is unrealistic at this very moment… it still definitely falls on it.
Bring Back Destiny 1
It is as simple as it sounds… I would love to see all of the patrol zones and activities from Destiny 1… make an appearance in Destiny 2. They have been cherry picking elements from the first game already, but a lot of us players from Destiny 1 felt a great sense of loss in losing all the places we loved from the first game. It will take some work, but in theory they could start shimming in zones here and there as they release other content. I would love to be able to do Prison of Elders again or take on Oryx. You could even bring in some sort of a time walking like mechanic that lets you run older content without effecting the flow of the current storyline. What if there was an ascendant realm that contained pockets of these old settings or something of that sort. The Destiny story is kooky enough to be able to support it via space magic.
Table Destiny 3
Along the lines of the last topic… I would honestly love to see them completely table the discussion of a Destiny 3. Hell at this point my preference would be for them to rebrand Destiny 2 to simply be “Destiny Franchise” or something of the sort and start treating the game like a more traditional MMORPG with semi-yearly expansions that keep adding new content without doing a nuke from orbit reset every few years. Sure a new game gives players a chance to come back into the game on the same footing of every else… but I legitimately do not thing we will be gaining a much larger audience than the game already has. Destiny 2 was a big push and burned a lot of people… and getting those players back won’t happen with a new numerical release.
Keep the Course
I like the roadmaps that they are now doing… and I like that there are little trickles of new things flowing into the game every so often. Ultimately my hope is that we will see more content without the thumb of Activision… but quite honestly I am not sure that is realistic. The company will be getting a larger share of the profits… but those initial purchase profits are already a sunk cost. They are going to have to prove to us that annual pass is worth it at this point, and I am not entirely certain that Black Armory did that. Additionally they are going to have to give us other things to purchase to keep the cash flow incoming. It will be interesting to see how things move forward as we clear the rest of this year.
If they straight up released Destiny 1 for PC as a stand alone game… I would probably throw money at the screen and buy it. However if they released the content FROM Destiny 1 as an expansion to Destiny 2 that was not part of the Annual Pass content… I would probably throw MORE money at the screen. I do however think they might need to rework Eververse drastically however to give us more reasons to give them money. That does not mean that I think they need to fuck with the math and make Bright Engrams stupid, but instead offer other avenues. Like for example… if I could spend bright dust/silver to unlock shaders permanently… I would probably do that. SWTOR had that functionality of buying things as unlocked for your entire account, so in theory they could do something similar.
Additionally I would throw lots of money at the screen if they created an expansion that added better cosmetic options to the game, and allowed us to create outfits of our favorite gear appearances… decoupling them from what we happened to be actually wearing. Basically there are ways that they can keep improving the game, but also creating vehicles that get us to spend money with them. There are folks that are predicting a switch to a free to play model like Fortnite, but I question if that would actually work. Destiny 2 is not exactly a game that is great at onboarding new players, and they would have to think long and hard about how to address that problem.
At this point I have rambled at length… but these are some of my thoughts. What are your thoughts about this announcement?