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Bungie cuts Destiny 2's XP throttling after being exposed by players [updated]

Destiny 2 is the latest game to suffer backlash, following its handling of progression. Recently, players discovered the game was reducing the experience gains received, the longer players spent in particular events. A lengthy analysis by Reddit user EnergiserX provided some further confirmation, with some long-term testing on how experience earnings can be affected.

After you reach Level 20, your character starts gaining additional experience, which contributes toward earning "Bright Engrams." These are the same loot crates you can buy through Silver microtransactions. Even though the Bright Engrams mostly contain cosmetic microtransactions, they include unique items like emotes and consumable shaders to customize your player. Suffice to say that they're highly sought after items.

Bungie clearly understands this and secretly limited experience gains over long-term play. During Destiny 2's "Clarion Call" event, players noticed that they were seeing less experience from the same activity, despite no formal changes. If they repeated the activity several times, earnings would drop from 5,000 points in following sessions.

After being called out on various forms of social media, Bungie admitted that the game throttles experience gains, though the system would immediately be suspended. The studio issued the following statement on its website discussing the controversy.

We've seen community discussion around XP gain in Destiny. After reviewing our data, we agree that the system is not performing the way we'd like it to. Today, we'd like to describe what's going on under the hood, and talk about what you can expect going forward when it comes to earning XP in Destiny 2. Currently... XP will scale down when playing activities that can be quickly, repeatedly chained, like grinding Public Events. We are not happy with the results, and we've heard the same from the community. Effective immediately, we are deactivating this system... players will see XP earn rates change for all activities across the board, but with all values being displayed consistently in the user interface.

The fact that the studio was limiting experience gains for people who played the game longer is frivolous, to say the least. It's great to see the developer issue a fix, but disappointing to see such features implemented to begin with. They should've explained their reasoning behind this better.

There are other ways to encourage gamers to try out additional activities instead of limiting progression. It's unclear what the reasons for doing this are but ultimately, it effectively encourages microtransactions to gain rarer items. It's a shame that players had to discover the deception before the studio recognized its flaws.

Update 11/27/17: In addition to removing the throttling, Bungie has increased the amount of experience needed to level up by effectively doubling it. Bright Engrams now need around 160,000 points to earn. This modification was also discovered by users as the studio didn't reveal this change willingly.

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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

20 Comments
  • When I used to play the first destiny, it would always seem like players who play less and have put less hours into the game get good weapons from random drops, while those who play a lot need to play even more to get the good drops. Obviously I can't prove this because it's supposed to be "luck", but I always got that feeling you know.
  • True, i don't think there is any "randomness" in games. Playing asphalt 8, in kit boxes 75% time i get blueprints of cars i already have
  • Activision likely had a say in this to get Bungie to milk microtransactions. Booo Activision! Bungie did a deal with the devil signing them as a publishing partner.
  • No freaking wonder why I've been getting less bright engrams. All I even care about is the armor Tess has for my hunter. I have the cloak, arms and legs but no freaking helmet or chest because ever bright engram gives me no dust or the actual items I want. Xp throttling... Freakin lame.
  • The underlying issue is that this mechanic is also being used in mobile free to play games, especiallys in mmorpgs. I know some people who have sunk literally hundreds of pounds for rare pets and items.
    It's absolutely disgusting, there are so many issues especially psychological issues. As players were 'getting married' in game all for the sake of premium ingame currency. It all starts of innocently enough and once at certain high level, you need the premium items to level up without grinding for several months per level. The other pyschological factor of being the 'strongest' in game also fuels players to spend and spend and spend more real money.
    At one point it will get so bad, as after a point players will pool together to level together and share resources. Which results to in-fighting and animosity which spills over into real life. All for the sake of being the strongest player in the game and premium items.
    After awhile, he or she is lost into addictive behaviour. As they skip work to participate in every single daily event just to remain or be in the ranked players.
    Therefore by implementing this mechanic, bungie have lost me and everyone I know as a customer for life. I have seen good people succumb into the addiction of leveling and I will not let anyone I know partake in such greed.
  • It might be psychological issues, but this is what the people want. It obviously works, and works well since it seems just about every game will have this crap.
  • No it's not what people want, it's what greedy studios and publishers want. To latch on to people and rinse their bank accounts dry.
  • If people didn't want it, then they wouldn't spend the money. By "the people", I don't mean the majority, but I do believe its a large enough percentage. All you have to do is look at Overwatch. How many people have spent hundreds of dollars just for some stupid skins?
  • More money than sense as common sense is not so common.
  • True. I never said people were smart. =P
  • Fix what? They programmed it this way, the way they wanted it, and got called out on it. Their answer is BS. They knew what they were doing. Code doesn't write itself and we are not yet at Skynet abilities to self write code.
  • Not defending Bungie, but code can write code, and sometimes that code is wrong and causes issues.
  • They never called this a mistake. Instead, they said "we see you don't like this, so we'll stop." They built it to be deceptive in its reward system.
  • "Effective immediately, we are deactivating this system... players will see XP earn rates change for all activities across the board..." What I read from this is that they are deactivating the system where it throttles just for 'activities that can be quickly, repeatedly chained, like grinding Public Events' and instead enabling it for ALL activities. So does this mean that they are not really ending the throttling per se, but instead enabling it across the board? They are not cutting the throttling?
  • Sounds like a really petty thing to complain about tbh. Diminishing rewards whilst grinding isn't a remotely new concept and this is only getting bad press because the reward happens to be something you have the option of buying with real money. Said rewards don't even affect the games power balance.
  • No game, especially AAA titles, should require any form of additional payments, ever. You pay £50+ for a game, then the game should include everything. Microtransactions should only be in games costing £15 (as an example).
  • The article should at least mention (or: not intentionally cut out the quote on that particular part) that Bungie actually BUFFED the XP gain for lengthy activities like crucible or the raid with the same mechanic. The real problem is not this system, but that the game continues to show the same XP numbers even if you actually get less/more XP and that Bungie tried to hide it that way.
  • Loot boxes and xp cuts are bad. But I think grinding shouldn't be the end of any game. It should be discouraged in some way. Games should be about experiences and fun, not about leveling up.
  • It's about time. Thank you
  • bottom line they designed it that way on purpose...now they want us to download their "free trial"