Destiny is a Stroke of Pure Evil GeniusBy Brendan
Destiny has been out for three weeks now and it seems safe to say that for most people the game is over. For anyone not interested in the hours and hours of grinding repetitive content required to move past level 20, the short, lackluster story can't have lasted even this long. For those who manage to get to level 26 and unlock all the content the game has to offer, the game is similarly finished by now. The only way to upgrade their gear any more (which is pointless anyway since there's no more content to use that gear on) is to get extremely rare materials, which requires potentially hundreds of more hours grinding from the exact same pool of missions they've already had to complete dozens of times. For a while during the beginning of the limited-time Queen's Wrath event it seemed there would be a more reliable way to get at these materials, but once Bungie discovered that it became clear they didn't intend it, and they removed that ability.
This boils down to a simple fact: as exemplified by the comments in this Reddit thread, for players of all skill and commitment levels, the game is simply begging you to stop playing it.
It's a stroke of pure evil genius. And I'll explain why.
Consider the timing. On July 25th, a week into the Destiny Beta, Warner Brothers announced that Shadow of Mordor would be releasing early, on September 30th instead of October 7th. Do you know how many times a game is released EARLY? Even just one week? It's exceedingly rare. My guess is that by the middle of the beta Bungie had enough data to estimate how long players would take to get through the game, so they used industry backchannels to convince Warner Brothers to move up the Mordor release date so that players were not left hanging without a game to play. Early reviews generally favor Shadow of Mordor over Destiny, despite the former's lower budget and considerable lack of hype.
See, now that Destiny is finished for most people, Bungie doesn't want them harping on it, complaining about it, or really thinking about it at all. They even went to the trouble of hiring such amazing writers that they were able to create a story that is utterly forgettable. If players start to think about Destiny, they may start to think about their actual experience rather than just the shiny visuals and tight gameplay. They may wonder why they spent so much money on it, especially considering how short the campaign is. Players may notice that the classic video game trope of changing enemy colors to denote different types was simplified even further to the point of only changing the health bar colors, rather than anything on the models themselves. This is just one micro example of their genius: Bungie has pushed repetition and re-use of content as far is it can go.
With Shadow of Mordor hearkening the beginning of the fall craze of new releases, it means players won't have time to think about those things, or why they've been playing a game that to fully enjoy demands as many hours each day as a full time cubicle job and also entails sitting for long stretches staring at a screen hoping something interesting happens. It means that when the DLC comes out several months from now, players won't remember any of that, and they'll be willing to shell out the money for any new content, no matter how small. The DLC will probably perpetuate the cycle so that a few months after that another DLC release will follow, each forgettable, each a tiny ball of repetition, ad infinitum.
So here's the real genius: by purposefully making a game so utterly forgettable and timing it so that other releases in the industry with better reviews eclipse it the perfect amount of time later, Bungie has been assured of maximum profits (it's not like you can return your digital download for a $60 refund) while minimizing costs. Because no one will be playing Destiny, they won't have to spend nearly as much money maintaining their servers. Maximizing sales while minimizing the number of active players is a formula EA has been trying to nail down for a decade. I'd say Bungie has finally succeeded. Maybe once investors realize that, Activision's stock will start to recover from the huge drop it's taken since Destiny's release.
Planned obsolescence as a service is here to stay. And personally, I'm glad to have spent my money on a game that has a worse script, worse voice acting, and a more convoluted, pointless story than any recent entry in the Call of Duty series. Because Bungie's genius deserves to be recognized and financially compensated. Plus the alternative - that this is the game the creators of almighty Halo actually meant to make because they thought it would be memorable or fun - is too terrifying to contemplate.