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Gameverse | November 13, 2019

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Why Destiny 2 is Gaming’s Most Successful Failure

Matthew Byrd

Destiny 2

It’s strange that success and failure are often treated as two opposite things when most people and things you’d consider to be a success probably had to fail at least a few times to “make it.” It’s just the nature of life.

Nowhere in gaming is the complicated relationship between success and failure more clear (yet somehow even more complicated) than with Destiny 2.

For those who don’t know, Destiny 2 developer Bungie recently split from former publisher Activision Blizzard. One of the many “consequences” of this split was Bungie’s decision to make a free-to-play version of Destiny 2. This free-to-play version of the game is going to live alongside a series of changes to the base Destiny 2 experience.

Is that a good thing? It really depends on who you ask. One of the most popular perceptions regarding the state of Destiny is that this move to free-to-play (along with the content updates) is really a move to save Destiny 2 and keep the game from going under. That’s certainly understandable. After all, we’ve seen other games make this move in the past.

However, that’s not entirely accurate. Recently revealed figures suggest that Destiny has been the second-best-selling FPS franchise since its launch (behind Call of Duty) and the 7th overall best-selling franchise in that same time period (based on tracked sales). Those numbers are quite shocking considering that Destiny‘s former publishers once suggested that Destiny failed to meet their sales expectations.

So, is Destiny a success or a failure? Well, it’s kind of both and kind of neither.

The thing of it is that a ton of people play Destiny, pay for its regular expansions, watch the game on Twitch around the time of major events, and, in general, still play the game. It has a very healthy community in terms of numbers.

It’s telling, though, that many members of that healthy community will be the first ones to tell you that Destiny 2 (and the original Destiny) has had its fair share of problems. From the controversial decision to release a sequel at all (and not let people transfer their characters,) to controversial (sometimes non-existent) storytelling methods and an array of pressured microtransactions, the Destiny franchise has been marred by glaring shortcomings.

What’s funny is that it’s always been like this with Destiny. From the moment the game launched, those that played it spent about as much time playing it as they did complaining about the game’s shortcomings. It’s long been referred to as Bungie’s great experiment, yet we never really seem to get to that point where the experiment has been declared a success. There have been times along the way when Destiny has lived up to much of its potential, but those times have almost always come right before ore of those infamously bad decisions.

As you can probably tell, it’s a bit frustrating to play Destiny at times. So why does anyone even bother with it at all?

Well, the funny thing there is that Destiny 2 is a fundamentally fun game at the end of the day. It combines the MMO mentality of games like World of Warcraft with the action of Halo and the looting system of titles like Borderlands. It’s fun to just run around and shoot things from moment to moment, and every time you get to enter a new raid or get that incredibly rare piece of gear, the game can feel like the absolute best in the world.

That’s the reason why so many people are excited about Destiny 2‘s latest chapter. At the end of the day, Bungie has a made a game that many people either love to play or at least wish they loved to play it if it wasn’t for some nagging problems. Those nagging problems are always going to be part of the reason why Destiny 2 will be considered a failure in the eyes of many, and it’s highly unlikely that Bungie will ever find a way to make the game “perfect” and address all of those issues.

At the same time, Destiny is still a success in ways both traditional and agreed upon. Bungie’s pursuit to make Destiny 2 everything that it can be has resulted in a title that has never really been complacent because it can so rarely afford to be. Destiny 2 remains this great experiment at a time when delivering a formula is so often seen as the quickest path to profit. It’s a successful failure, and it’s hard not to love it for that.