The never-ending Destiny 2 controversy is a teachable moment for the game industry

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The last and most significant attempt by Bungie to address the complaints of the players surrounding Destiny 2 came on Tuesday, a little over six months after the initial release of the game. And yet, inevitably, the vociferous community has retreated within a few days to its previous state of almost perpetual indignation. The update, dubbed the "Go Fast" update, on how it was designed to address complaints about speed and competitive intensity, made a series of major changes in the potency of certain firearms and in the effectiveness and frequency of the brand. of superpowers of science fiction game. could be managed, among other crucial changes in the game.
But the end result is a similar level of frustration on the part of players who feel that Bungie is not going far enough and, more importantly, that he continues to misinterpret the players' expectations. At this point, Destiny 2 feels chained by its own fundamental design decisions, which are almost impossible to uproot and modify without a full-scale reboot of the title in the style of the infamous general review of Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIV. The players want Bungie to return the game to the state it was in during the peak of the original Destiny, an unlikely course of events for a studio that has barely begun to examine its most important mistakes. These range from the lack of meaningful activities in the game and soft rewards, to a slow and uninspired weapons system.
The problems of Bungie & Destiny 2 are instructive for the rest of the gaming industry
Of course, "video game players are angry with video games" is not exactly a novel narrative, and certainly not specific to games like Destiny 2. But what makes Bungie's efforts with the sequel to his shooter / MMO be So interesting is how instructive it is to the rest of the gaming industry. Today, many videogames are created as persistent and constantly evolving products that can be modified subtly and dramatically through expansions, updates and post-launch patches. Look at Fortnite from Epic Games, a game that responded to an industry trend last year and has since exploded into a global phenomenon thanks in part to a radical and radical update cycle.
But what happens if the game creator, at the highest possible level, misunderstands what the players really want, and does not listen or trust those players when they verbalize those demands? No amount of agile iteration or new features can bridge a trust gap. And that's what Bungie seems to suffer today, with a player base that almost refuses to believe that the company has the best interests of the game at heart and wants to act in good faith accordingly.
We do not know how much money Destiny 2 is making, nor how many people play each day or month. Bungie will not tell, and it could be that the game is healthy and that the revenue comes from his Eververse store in the game. But from a simple superficial snapshot of the community, the players are discontented and the game feels as if it is on a path to an unattainable state. Bungie recognizes this, and members of the development team have become increasingly frank, almost sardonic, in the interviews on camera. Sandbox design leader Josh Hamrick described the team's philosophy these days with the phrase "What's the worst that can happen?" In a YouTube breakdown of the "Go Fast" update earlier this week.
So how do we get here, and how do we miss the warning signs?

Image: Bungie

Since the release of Destiny 2 last September, the narrative around the title has changed drastically and so often that Bungie has often failed to keep up. But from the beginning, it focuses on players who want a hardcore experience similar to Destiny 1, and yet, Bungie offers a simplified version of that experience. Each time the company is engulfed in controversy, the developer, through a deliberately rotating cast of public voices, agrees to listen to more comments. However, Bungie has taken months to address the demands of the players and try to remedy the lack of fun factor of the game, the core problem at its core.
For most of these undelivered changes that you can attribute to players who do not understand the practical aspects of game development, there remain an equal number of seemingly simple and enjoyable home runs for the crowd that Bungie could have done much earlier and inexplicably not. Why, for example, did Bungie take six months to deliver a "Rumble" playlist for its competitive Crucible multiplayer mode? Why did it take the same amount of time to make the necessary changes, which determine the speed and variety of game styles that the game encourages, to address the fact that almost everyone used the same minuscule set of weapons, armor and skills? ?
Bungie misinterpreted from the beginning what he thought the players wanted
There is still a long list of requests that players are still requesting, and yet Bungie may take months to deliver them along with their next big drop in content in May and an even bigger one planned for September. To demand that the study completely revise the design and the mechanical framework of the game, while offering new activities to enjoy, is a big question. But players want nothing less than a miracle to save what many consider their main pastime after work.
But, again, what we are really discussing here are not the specific changes that would take Bungie to "fix" the game, whatever that means, or even really where it went wrong and how. (The system of two primary weapons is probably the culprit of this latest investigation, along with a game design philosophy stubbornly rooted in simplicity at all costs.) We are talking about a game developer who misinterpreted from the beginning what he believed the players wanted, only to discover later that he had made almost fatal mistakes. Many of the changes Bungie described in a development roadmap earlier this year include the implementation of features that the original game enjoyed and which, however, were eliminated from the sequel.
In an almost Gladwell turn, what the critics, the players and even the game makers themselves thought was a step in the right direction, in fact, took several steps backwards. We just could not see it before or even during the launch. When I reviewed Destiny 2 in September, I said it was everything the fans had been asking for. I sincerely believed that: I had fast planetary travel, a milestone system for simplified progression and a more balanced and team-based competitive multiplayer mode. Everything we thought Destiny 2 needed: less single-hit combat in multiplayer, fewer frustrating systems to manage resources and activate your character, less random spoils: it turned out to be the soul of the original game.

Photo: Bungie

Destiny 2 has been a counterintuitive failure that has been going on for more than half a year, with the reality that the situation requires many thousands of hours of play in the game to become a cohesive image of dissatisfaction and unfulfilled expectations. Sure, some players called it before others, with frustrations bubbling weeks after launch. But it was not until the December expansion, Curse of Osiris, that he felt the game had entered an irreversible downward spiral.
As a fairly prophetic fan wrote on Reddit in December, Bungie was simply responding in the wrong way to the right problems, going too far in some ways and not far enough in others. "As I read many of the threads in this submarine that discuss the problems of people with Destiny 2 I have come to realize that many of the drastic changes that Bungie has made are the direct result of the complaints that were made during life of Destiny 1 ", wrote the user. "A lot of what I contributed, I participated in conversations and made posts complaining about a lot of the things that Bungie tried to address in D2 to achieve that balance between the casual player and the hardcore." Although players can take the blame here to tell Bungie to move in all directions immediately, the developer has the most severe responsibility to discover what makes his game successful and fun, and then decipher how to improve those aspects of the game for everyone.
Destiny 2 has been a counterintuitive failure that develops for more than half a year now
Destiny 2 has become a clear example of how a game creator can overestimate its ability to offer something that millions of people will enjoy without deeply engaging with those players, and without listening or trusting the community when its members say they are not happy . The biggest stumbling block to changing games as services in the industry during the last half decade is that a developer can create a game with problems that minor and even larger updates can not solve, a product so at odds with what players want No amount of adjustments fix your image in your eyes. And due to the very nature of the product, this situation may not be evident to all parties involved until months after the launch.
Today's most successful gaming platforms, such as Fortnite Overwatch and Blizzard, not only iterate quickly, they take risks and they do so while providing extensive communication with players. The developers of those games on a fundamental level understand what the players want and how to give them to them. You can not respond adequately to the comments of the players if you are not on the same page.
Bungie has the resources and time to fix Destiny 2, although it is most likely to happen when the more expensive September expansion that reflects the 2015 The Taken King will be reduced later this year. To cover the storm until then will not be pleasant, but the beauty of games like Destiny is that they are never static. They can always become something else. Bungie's team just has to be willing to let go of what they thought they wanted to do, and turn their focus back to what made the original game work so well. Finding the answer is just a matter of tuning in with the community and listening to what they have to say.


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