Here are our seven biggest questions after the ‘divorce.’
Without the backing of Activision, my immediate response was that the industry-rattling divorce between Activision and Bungie may be great for the future of the Destiny franchise. The studio seems happy, based on the inside-sourced tweets from Kotaku’s Jason Schreier. But while Activision was labeled the big bad for many, they did add a lot of support that is now gone. “We know self-publishing won’t be easy,” Bungie said in a company statement. “There’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny. We know that new adventures await us all on new worlds filled with mystery, adventure, and hope. We hope you’ll join us there.” While it’s wonderful that Bungie has managed to regain creative control of its intellectual property, there are a lot of challenges ahead for the studio to think about. Here are a few questions we have as Bungie wades into these new waters.
1) Publishing the game
Activision confirmed that Destiny 2 will continue to be updated on the Battle.net, but after a split, it opens up new options for distribution in the future. Epic recently partnered with Ubisoft to exclusively distribute The Division 2, for example, and Steam is always an option for the PC version. Alternatively, Bungie could create its own platform and release the PC version of Destiny there. Or, perhaps it’ll just stay on Battle.net moving forward, perhaps under a different financial arrangement.
2) What about Vicarious Visions and High Moon Studios?
Bungie hasn’t been developing Destiny 2 alone. The PC port was masterfully executed by Vicarious Visions, and the well-received Forsaken expansion had some help during development from both Vicarious and High Moon, two Activision-owned studios. What happens with this partnership could determine what Bungie is able to produce for a Destiny 3, or future Destiny 2 content expansions.
3) Will there be a Destiny 3?
Granted, we’ve heard many rumors that a full-blown Destiny 3 is in development, but what will that content release look like? Could Bungie possibly just continue updating the sandbox of Destiny 2 with larger updates and regular content drops? Will it be called Destiny 3, or will the next entry in the series evolve it into a platform and drop the number altogether, similar to Halo Infinite? There’s a lot to consider here, and the sky’s the limit.
4) Will Bungie change its release schedule?
The content that Bungie has already laid out for 2019 is locked, but what about further in the future? Now that they’ve regained control of their Destiny, that could change. One of the most difficult challenges Bungie has always faced was its own timeline, and according to reports, the entire reason the eververse was created was as a way to supplement income as the studio developed the sequel, per the Activision agreement. Now that it’s gone they have the option of drastically changing their content drop plan and even delaying Destiny 3 an entire year. With the NetEase project in development and a sequel in the works this will be one of the most interesting adjustments to follow as it could mean Destiny doesn’t see a new entry until Bungie believes it’s truly fantastic, a pipe-dream I’d love to see come to fruition.
5) Will the Sony partnership continue?
I’ve always seen the Sony partnership as a difficult pill to swallow, as it put Bungie in a difficult place. Only a fraction of the player base saw the exclusive content that was created, fans got incredibly angry at the year-long exclusivity period, and with some items, by the time they hit other platforms Destiny 2 had been released! With the inclusive community that Destiny has, even PlayStation players were asking for it to be cut. Hopefully Bungie is listening.
6) Will Bungie find a new partner?
One of the first prominent industry voices to comment on Bungie’s new independence was none other than Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “Looking forward to a very bright future working with one of my favorite independent studios on one of my favorite franchises,” he tweeted. “Excited to see how they continue to grow and evolve Destiny.” While Bungie may have celebrated when it left Microsoft in 2007, both companies’ businesses have shifted and it leaves the conversation on the table at a time when Microsoft is building a stable of new developers who are making exclusives for the Xbox platform. Still, with the NetEase support that likely set them up for this departure, it’s doubtful Bungie will partner with anyone in the immediate future.
7) How will content delivery and microtransactions change?
This one is tricky. On the one hand, the current system is how Bungie funded a lot of its development costs, but it’s also been a thorn in the studio’s side, as it never figured out a way for Destiny 2 to do microtransactions well. The community especially dislikes them; the Eververse is a constant complaint we’ve seen expressed for years. The decision to remove it entirely would be surprising due to how it’s currently embedded into Destiny 2. Bungie did a good job tweaking it with Forsaken, but I’d still like to see its removal entirely.
While this is not going to be a walk in the park for the newly independent developer, I think it’s a net positive for Bungie if only perception-wise. Most seem to see this as a victory, and I too find myself happily rooting for them to succeed. That said, we’ve been here before, and time will tell if the franchise manages to move in a positive direction after years of ups and downs.