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Destiny 2 director responds to Activision’s disappointment over Forsaken sales (Updated)

Update: The excellent Destiny 2: Forsaken isn't "performing as well" as publisher Activision had hoped—but Bungie loves the expansion, according to the base game's director Luke Smith. 

Smith, who didn't direct the expansion, tweeted today that the development team "set out to build a game that Destiny players would love, and at Bungie, we love it too".

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It follows an earnings call in which Activision said the expansion had failed to "re-engage" the "core" fans of Destiny 2, which had led to its "underpeformance against our expectations to date" (see original story below). That created concerns that Activision wanted to steer the game towards a casual audience, or even add extra monetisation, but Smith's assertion that Bungie is still focused on the core audience might reassure some fans.

Original story: 

Destiny 2: Forsaken is a dramatic improvement on the base game in just about every way: It's "the second wind Destiny 2 needed," Austin said in his high-scoring review, with "expanded RPG elements and quality of life changes" that make it more compelling and less frustrating. Nonetheless, Activision said in its third quarter earning calls today that it is "not performing as well as we'd like."  

We have not yet seen the full core re-engage in Destiny, which has kind of led to the underpeformance against our expectations to date.

Activision COO Coddy Johnson

"Forsaken is a high quality expansion of content into the universe, honestly some of the highest quality content we've seen in the franchise to date," Activision COO Coddy Johnson said during the call. "And it really came out of Activision and Bungie working together to address community concerns post-Destiny 2 holistically—talking to players ... it needed a fundamental review of how to offer deeper endgame, greater powers, greater rewards, and engage players." 

Activision recently made the Destiny 2 base game free on Battle.net, to keep, until November 18, as part of an effort to build its audience. Johnson said that the "deep engagement" offered by a live game means that once people start playing, they're liable to keep playing—and while the base game is free, Forsaken (and its annual pass) are not. And it sounds like Forsaken itself, despite making hardcore fans happy (or at least happier), wasn't getting the job done on its own.   

"We have not yet seen the full core re-engage in Destiny, which has kind of led to the underpeformance against our expectations to date. Some players we think are still in wait-and-see mode," Johnson said. "So when you're in, you're deeply engaged. If you're not, we're hoping now's the time to bring players back in and win them back."

A rumor surfaced in October that Bungie has already begun early work on Destiny 3, and that it will be more "hardcore" than Destiny 2, even with the Forsaken expansion. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.