Screenshot by Destructoid

Is Bungie trying to regain some ground with Destiny 2 players ahead of The Final Shape?

Will Bungie's goodwill be enough to bring players back?

Bungie has been uncharacteristically generous as of late. At first glance, it seems that Destiny 2 players are eating well. But Bungie’s change of pace doesn’t read like its usual exchange for goodwill — something that especially rings true when looking at the state of the studio. 

Recommended Videos

Bungie is in a historically bad spot. Following an acquisition by Sony, there’s pressure on the studio to perform. As IGN’s Rebekah Valentine previously reported, employees called the atmosphere “soul-crushing” following a round of layoffs and delay for The Final Shape, with both reportedly due to Destiny 2 missing its revenue goals by 45%. 

The studio needs The Final Shape to do exceedingly well. The only problem is Bungie has created a player retention nightmare with blows to morale and distrust. It’s hard enough to keep players engaged throughout a whole year, even under ‘normal’ circumstances. With a lengthy delay and no large-scale planned content to tide players over in between, Destiny 2’s population has had some of its worst days ever. And while the population data only accounts for PC players on Steam, reliable numbers aren’t available for other platforms.

There’s the typical, free sample approach in live service tactics, but this has never been Bungie’s style of “generosity.” Instead of the traditional content that has appeared between expansions, like the $25 Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack or the purely cosmetic Armor Synthesis feature, Destiny 2 players are now seeing more complimentary rewards and long-requested features like free weekly Bright Dust, the lucrative Riven’s Wishes questline, new pinnacle weapons, character edits, and more. Bungie knows it needs to keep fans invested, and in what seems like a mad dash for player retention, the studio is pulling out all of the stops.

A frantic scramble

Screenshot by Destructoid

In November 2023, I wrote about how Destiny 2 had received a blow that seemed impossible to recover from. The idea was that Destiny 2 is dependent on continuous engagement as a live service game. The breadth of content Bungie adds to the game is only financially justified if it can keep players spending. It’s not enough to check out an expansion’s story and be on your merry way; Bungie needs players to spend money throughout the year. And, for the most part, Destiny 2 is well-designed around this monetization. 

Want to check out the new seasonal story? Buy the season. Want to do the new Dungeon? Buy a Dungeon Key. Want to look like Garrus from Mass Effect? You can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll be shelling out for Destiny’s Silver premium currency. While there’s certainly an argument to be made regarding the over-monetization of Destiny 2, the whole concept only works if players are, well, playing.

So, when a delay extends Lightfall for another three months amid above-average player drop-off and negative community sentiment, what can Bungie do? The plan, it appears, is to make an offer too good to refuse. Bungie isn’t in a position to set a team upon cobbling together new content to fill the void, but what about free stuff every week? What about that character customization feature devs pleaded with Bungie to add? That would be manageable. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Bungie’s atypical parade of goodwill, and it’s a common live service approach. But in Bungie’s case, it feels like a reactionary ploy to get players invested now that Season 23 is all but concluded and the long wait for The Final Shape starts in earnest.

The other side of the coin

Screenshot by Destructoid

So, what does Bungie get out of being generous? Well, the obvious prize is winning back some of the community’s goodwill. Otherwise, it’s all about giving players a taste of the high life to entice future purchases. For example, free Bright Dust is fantastic. It lets players buy a cosmetic or two they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. But it also forces players to peruse the store, dangling Destiny’s other cool options only obtainable using Silver. Sure, everyone won’t give in to temptation and add premium currency to their cart, but it’s hard to resist the endorphin rush after you’ve had a taste for free. 

All of these recent openhanded additions lead to a similar loop. Players can get a little so long as they invest a little. Now, I’m not outright against what’s going on here. Despite how it might sometimes sound, I want Destiny 2 to succeed. It needs to rekindle some success, and if these hooks are the road there, then I’m for it. Admittedly, there is also the new Game Director, Tyson Green, to consider as a variable. Though Green’s input certainly could have been involved, it would stand to reason that much of this content, like Riven’s Wishes quests, was being worked on or completed long before Joe Blackburn announced the change in leadership.

As always, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I’d love for these moves to signal a more significant change in course for the studio as a whole. And I don’t think many players will ever complain about having more to do in Destiny 2. But, for now, I can’t help but feel like weekly Riven’s Wishes quests, Bright Dust gifts, and rotating new weapons are a clever way to keep people playing until the big show hits via The Final Shape in June.


Destructoid is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is full of spirit, but struggles in execution
Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes impressions
Read Article Sker Ritual is the indie Call of Duty Zombies I’ve always wanted
Sker Ritual is indie call of duty zombies
Read Article Overcoming Tank anxiety in FFXIV made me a better player (and a Dark Knight main)
Dark Knight in Final Fantasy XIV
Related Content
Read Article Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is full of spirit, but struggles in execution
Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes impressions
Read Article Sker Ritual is the indie Call of Duty Zombies I’ve always wanted
Sker Ritual is indie call of duty zombies
Read Article Overcoming Tank anxiety in FFXIV made me a better player (and a Dark Knight main)
Dark Knight in Final Fantasy XIV
Author
Jonathan LoChiatto
Jonathan LoChiatto is a writer, editor, and creator with content across Destructoid, GameRant, SVG, and more. Jonathan is the creator of The Dorkweb podcast and continues to dabble in entertainment. When he's not streaming Destiny 2, he can be found digging into RPGs, strategy games, and shooters.