Destiny 2 has had a rough year, after an intense, rough couple of weeks involving layoffs and revelations about the health of the game and the company. A lot of factors have combined to produce a new playercount low, at least from the metrics we can track.
Judging by Steam numbers, a significant portion of the playerbase, in the last 30 days the game’s average playercount was 34,816 and its peak playercount was 59,076. Those are both all-time lows, ever since the game was first released on Steam.
Yes, two things are true. November is always a down time for Destiny 2. It’s the tail end of the middle season of the year, and you can see other dips in other years here. It’s also true that this game is six years old, so you’d expect declines.
However, there are four significant things to note about this new low.
First it’s…a new low. The end of seasons are low. Novembers are low. But this is lower than…all of those. That alone is significant given the other context here.
Second, I’m not sure how many people realize that eight months ago, Lightfall produced the game’s highest concurrent playercount ever, 316,651 players at launch. So no, this is not “well no one cares about Destiny in year 6.” They very much did care by the time Lightfall came out, and it shows the clear damage that expansion did to the playerbase, taking it from an all-time high to an all-time low in the span of less than a year. And that’s with, I would argue, an incredibly strong season in Season of the Witch where this low is taking place.
Then, we know the current state Bungie is in now. They are already at a 45% revenue miss for the year and given that things have only gotten worse since that report was made, it’s a serious issue. My reporting already revealed that some employees were told the performance of the game this year could have put the entire company in jeopardy if they were still independent, and it’s unclear what this is doing to their relationship with Sony.
Finally, what’s ahead. We have Season of the Wish, which certainly looks interesting, but behind that, a looming Final Shape delay that has not been confirmed yet, but is likely to extend Season of the Wish to 6-7 months with not enough time to build out some large 30th Anniversary0-style drop in the middle. It’s almost not even a question that in those later months we will probably see a low past what we’re experiencing now. And that will be ahead of The Final Shape, the game’s expansion that’s a culmination of a decade of storylines. But preorder are “soft” and you don’t want playercount lows hitting right before you’re about to launch something like that.
When you look at the full picture here, I am genuinely concerned. In what’s already an extremely down year, it does not seem likely things improve from here. And as for the long-term health of the game, I do not know what the magic solution here is to reverse these declines. Maybe if Lightfall being a bad expansion sank the playerbase, a truly amazing expansion like The Final Shape could turbo boost it. But it’s also the “end” of a huge chunk of Destiny, which will result in player drop-off itself, and I’m not convinced disconnected “Episodes” replacing the seasonal model will actually be a boost, seasonal fatigue aside.
It’s not good. That’s the main takeaway. And it’s not good at a level that is far more significant than before given these layoffs and the exceptional revenue declines we know about. Something needs to change, but it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better, I fear. If it gets better.
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