What you need to know
- A new report details a degraded mood at Destiny 2 developer Bungie following the recent wave of layoffs that saw roughly 100 workers cut from the studio.
- There are some industry expectations that Sony PlayStation could move in and "take over" the subsidiary studio, which has up until now enjoyed some autonomy and independence.
- Destiny 2's player count has dropped in recent months, which can create cash flow problems for service type games with large overheads.
According to a report that appeared in Forbes, things are looking rocky at Destiny 2 developer Bungie.
Bungie was previously known for having created the Halo universe in a broad partnership with Microsoft. Years later, the two entities separated, leading to the creation of 343i to oversee the development of Xbox's biggest sci-fi franchise. Bungie later released Destiny in partnership with Activision-Blizzard, although the partnership there also became strained over the years, leading to another split. Bungie was then picked up by Sony PlayStation and continues to build upon Destiny 2, which remains one of the most popular PvE-oriented service shooters, but things are looking rocky at the developer.
According to the report in Forbes, Bungie is suffering from huge morale problems stemming from layoffs, and missing targets associated with monthly active users. Many service type games use monthly active users or "MAUs" as a benchmark to gauge growth, and a drop off in MAU also correlates with a drop off in revenue. Destiny 2 is funded by expansions, in-game cosmetic purchases, and other avenues. Without consistent spend from those monthly active users, though, games with significant overheads like Destiny can potentially run into cash flow problems. Games like Destiny require huge amounts of spend in server tech, on-going development, and support services. Destiny also sports quite detailed photorealistic visuals, which can at times require more work to reproduce than something more stylized or "cartoony," with fewer polygons.
The report in Forbes comes at a time of widespread upheaval in general in the gaming industry. Thousands have lost their jobs this year, despite record profits, as certain publishers retreat and predict recession in 2024. Recessions typically mean lower consumer spend, although some analysis (such as this one in CNBC) suggest that consumer behaviour is changing. "Doom spending" is the new "doom scrolling," according to these reports, suggesting that some consumers are still spending money despite concerns about a broader economic downturn.
Indeed, gaming industry spend is generally up as well. Microsoft reported record engagement for its Xbox gaming platform at its last quarterly earnings report. If spending overall is up, it could suggest that Destiny 2 is struggling in the face of increased competition from other service-type games, many of which demand increasing amounts of our free time.
In the report from Forbes, it was suggested that Sony PlayStation could potentially "take over" Bungie, which up until now, has enjoyed some form of independence. Bungie still publishes Destiny 2 on Xbox, for example, despite some expectations that PlayStation could pull it. Bungie's next Destiny 2 expansion "The Final Shape" has been delayed until June 2024, creating a significant content drought. Doubtless, if The Final Shape shapes up nicely, it will certainly see players return despite the downturn. However, that is a large gap of time for a service game to lose out on players, and who knows what type of trending shiny new service game could launch around the same time?
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!