Game director says Destiny 2 'doesn't have enough reasons for 'hobbyist' players to login'

Bungie released a new episode of its official podcast shortly after today's big blog post went live, and on it marketing director Eric Osborne, game director Luke Smith, and project lead Mark Noseworthy discussed the studio's  commitment to getting Destiny 2 on the right track. 

Like the blog post, the podcast is frank about the current state of Destiny 2, the lack of long-term appeal for "hobbyist" players who want to spend an enormous amount of time in the game, and Bungie's missteps in terms of how it has communicated with playerbase. The developers said that, as an entry point for new players, they saw Destiny 2 in part as an opportunity to address criticisms that the original Destiny was too demanding, but in the end had "erred on the side of the casual experiences." 

Ultimately that led to the current situation, in which more committed players are struggling to find the motivation to play. "If you have a game that you love, you really want reasons to log in," Smith said. "And I think where we're at today is that Destiny 2 is a game that doesn't have enough excuses, or reasons, to play for those [hardcore] hobbyist players... We have to be looking at systems that lead to hobbyist play for all players."

Noseworthy took that idea further, talking about players who made the original Destiny one of their "preferred pastimes" and connected with other players who shared the passion for it. 

"And then they roll into Destiny 2 and have a great time for a month, and then they start running out of stuff to do," he said. "And they don't have as many bars to fill, there's not as many things to chase potentially. They don't have those same reasons to log in."

In the absence of information, people will move to believe that we created this system to fuck them—to be shitty, greedy jerks"

—Eric Osborne on the XP scaling system

They also admitted that Bungie "historically have not been as clear as we could be with communicating" the studio's plans and goals to its players. Part of that reticence to be open is simply because plans often aren't locked down—the developers weren't sure if the Masterworks weapons would be ready for the December 12 update, for instance, so kept it under their hat—and there's also concern about players taking aspirations as carved-in-stone commitments, which inevitably leads to trouble. 

The developers also emphasized that these explanations were meant to provided context, rather than be excuses: "We need to do better," Noseworhty said. "Actions speak louder than words."

"We hear you and we're going to take action," Osborne said. "'We hear you' has become such a cliche without action—who gives a shit if you hear me? What are you doing? What are the things you're putting in the game?"

The trio also addressed concerns about the XP scaling system that made the past weekend a rough ride for the studio. They argued that the system "makes sense for a bunch of design goals and reasons," but agreed that the way it was handled—ie the lack of transparency—had naturally led people to assume the worst.

"In the absence of information, people will—rightly so—move themselves to believe that we created this system to fuck them—to be shitty, greedy jerks," Osborne said. With the scaling now switched off, Bungie will monitor gameplay closely to see how things are unfolding and make changes as necessary—and will be as transparent as possible about all of it.   

"Any changes we make, we're gonna make sure we put them out there," Osborne said.

I know a lot of players are going to say, 'You're full of rich, creamy shit because you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar', [but] I'm okay with that—our actions are going to speak louder than our words."

—Eric Osborne

As for the redditor who first drew attention to the hidden scaling, the developers unanimously praised the work, crediting the "demonstrable rigor and diligence" that had gone into the research. Smith even said that Bungie "should talk to that individual about employment opportunities." 

"I am not mad that that happened, I am glad that got surfaced," Osborne added. "I know a lot of players out there are going to say, 'You're full of rich, creamy shit because you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar', [but] I'm okay with that—our actions are going to speak louder than our words." 

"It's not a silver bullet—'There it is, all your feedback's been addressed'—these are hopefully what people will perceive as steps in the right direction." 

It's an appropriate caveat: The blog post and podcast make big commitments, (although there's still no word on clan chat, which the game desperately needs, or changes to the vault to hold all this new gear) but while it sounds like the game is headed in the right direction, it's probably wise to leaven the optimism with a certain degree of caution. That appears to be the reaction from a number of prominent streamers as well: It's great that you hear us. Now show us. 

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.