Delays and staff changes raise some difficult questions.
Something is definitely amiss with 'Destiny'. While 'The Taken King' was a massive success last year, as we roll into 2016, fans, many of whom had just been won back by the expansion, are now wondering what the next step is, not just in fun, but frivolous little timewasters like the Festival of the Lost and the Sparrow Racing League, but full on capital-C Content. And while there was a nebulous idea of what that would entail, with a full-fledged sequel promised last year, and teases of new DLC and events dropped sporadically, the last couple of weeks and a huge staff change have thrown all of that up in the air.
The first signs of trouble started last week, as several outlets reported of rumors floating around that 'Destiny 2' was being delayed, in direct defiance of the known annualized plan for 'Destiny' laid out when the game was in development (basically: full fledged game 2014, big expansion 2015, full fledged sequel 2016, big expansion 2017, etc, etc). Which, you know, for an undertaking as massive and ambitious as 'Destiny', a delay isn't necessarily a big deal, and more often than not results in a better game. What casts a bit of pallor over that delay are the reports from folks close to development who say there isn't exactly a clarity of vision over at Bungie over how things need to progress. Per Kotaku UK's report on the goings-on: "At one point, word was that the microtransactions added in October would be cosmetic-only, but soon enough the studio quietly started selling level boosters as well. Bungie’s leadership has also vacillated on what content will launch this year and what they’ll save for 'Destiny 2', as well as whether near-future content will be free or paid. Even within the studio, people may not be aware of every decision that leadership makes; from what I hear, as of yesterday not everyone at Bungie even knew about the 'Destiny 2' delay."
Which leads us to today's big news, that Bungie has made a huge change in leadership, with company president Harold Ryan stepping down, and studio vet Pete Parsons stepping in as CEO. As opposed to the typically effusive statements made whenever Bungie has news to report, the announcement was uncharacteristically brief, with Parson stating: "To the players of 'Destiny', I want you to know that my number one priority, and Bungie’s, is and always has been to deliver great games that we can all share together. I believe that 'Destiny' is a one-of-a-kind experience. I also believe you have yet to see our studio’s best work. My new role here at the studio will be entirely focused on fulfilling that promise. "
It's a bit hard to not read between the lines here and see a studio that may have bitten off way more than they can chew with 'Destiny'. We've seen what happens when Bungie is under pressure; anyone who's seen that BTS documentary they included with the Collector's Edition of 'Halo 2' back in the day has seen that studio with the weight of the world on their shoulders before. But when that game shipped, despite missing the entire planned climax, it still felt like an incredible, polished game up to that point. 'Destiny's fundamentals have never been stronger, and as a standalone experience, what's already out there with 'Taken King' is fantastic, but it's still, at heart, an MMO. With a dearth of new content, and a growing number of constant bugs--apparently, there's been more than one week in the last two months where Xur, Agent of the Nine, was spawned stuck in a wall, where no one could reach--the grand plans Bungie has set forth for their baby might be crumbling before their very eyes. If there's any one silver lining to the new CEo, it's that someone's been brought up to see if they can get this train back on the track.