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Has Destiny Broken the Standards of Development?
If there’s one thing that Destiny has been great at since its development, it would be generating discussion through many of Bungie’s questionable decisions. With the near instantaneous promise of DLC and Destiny 2 in the future, Bungie has forgotten what they do best – making a lasting impact on players.
Bungie’s pedigree contains some of the greatest games in the history of gaming, and Destiny isn’t on that list. Their tremendous success with Halo makes Destiny even more upsetting. What exactly is “wrong” with Destiny though?
To start off I should say that Destiny isn’t a bad game. In fact, I’d say Destiny is a pretty good game, but so are the annual Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty games. Bungie isn’t known for making good games though, Bungie is traditionally known for making great games, which is why Destiny seems a bit odd. It’s almost as if with Destiny, all Bungie has ever cared about is the money. During the development of Destiny there was always talk about the “$500 million” spent on the game. While it turns out that the $500 million estimate also included advertising, future DLC and potential expansions, and it was really more of a brand promise, Destiny was still labeled as the new Bungie franchise with $500 million to support its potential growth. The closer we got to Destiny though the more odd the $500 million number seemed to be. The strange sense of development was noticeable when Destiny felt empty during the first round of beta testing months before the release, but it was brought into the light even more during the full release of the game in Sept. 2014.
I’m not going to tell you that you did or did not enjoy Destiny, but there’s no denying that expectation did not meet reality during the full release. Think about it – if Destiny far exceeded the projected number of sales, that information would be common knowledge and yet it’s hard to find how many copies have actually been sold. Don’t get me wrong, Destiny sold a ton of copies in the first month, but that is probably largely due to hype. Hype is a force that can make games fly off shelves in stores, but it’s also the last thing taken into consideration in reviews and in general public opinion.
Destiny felt incomplete. There was only one zone per planet, not many NPCs in the empty world and the story wasn’t exactly memorable. It was nothing like a traditional Bungie game, but that’s not what concerns me most. If you look at how Bungie has treated Destiny since launch, it almost feels like a big, elaborate plan solely designed to make money.
It feels as if from the very beginning, Destiny was about the money. Before the game was even released there was promise of DLC. While this may sound like a great thing because you’re getting more content almost immediately, you have to think about it in context. The DLC that you’re paying for is content that was probably planned from the beginning, just not released at launch because it could be sold a few months later for $20 a download. Even if you disregard this questionable practice, it seems hard to justify selling $20 DLC so soon after launch when one of the biggest complaints about the game was how incomplete it felt. Bungie used to make great games, now all they want is money.
Let me address the “isn’t the point of any business to make money” argument many of you are yelling at your computer screens right now. Sure, a business is designed around making money, but usually if you design a business with the intent of changing the world (or in this case a smaller, virtual world), money will follow. Grand Theft Auto V is a perfect example of this. Rockstar put a lot of money into GTA V, but the money was spent with good intentions. Rockstar wanted to make the biggest and most ambitious game in history, and they succeeded. Rockstar not only made a lot of money with GTA V, they also made arguably one of the best games ever, and that’s something to be proud of.
Developers should strive to make memorable games, not profitable ones. Not that they should try and lose money on a game, but rather they money shouldn’t be the center focus in development at all. With Bungie being such a big-name developer, other developers may look at Destiny and think that they too can make a quick buck by shorting players and selling them content later. Pretty soon it could get to the point where most developers are after the money and players are constantly being forced to buy new DLC or season passes to access content that should have been in the game in the first place. When it comes to making games for the sake of making a good game, Destiny is Bungie’s first step in the opposite direction, and gamers deserve better.