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".
We are not disappointed with Forsaken. We set out to build a game that Destiny players would love, and at Bungie, we love it too. Building Destiny for players who love it is and will remain our focus going forward.November 10, 2018
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.
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."
"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.