Daily Reaction: The Future of Bungie’s Destiny on Xbox 720 and PS4, Timed Exclusives and the PS Meeting

With Bungie teasing Destiny’s official reveal for Sunday, the Daily Reaction duo of Seb and Dan discuss what it means if the game is a Xbox 360 and 720 exclusive and why the game is set to be announced 3 days before the PS4.

Seb: PlayStation faithfuls were all joyous when Halo’s developer, Bungie, stopped working on the Microsoft franchise and announced that they would develop a multiplatform game in 2010. Excitement grew as Sony talked about how it would mean “Halo on steroids” for PS3 fans and Bungie began hiring for PS3 engineers. Codenames were revealed, plots were leaked.

But then – disaster. During the West and Zampella (Infinity Ward) court case against Activision, the publisher was forced to reveal details about some of their projects, including Bungie’s ‘Destiny’ series. In the legal document, it was revealed that the first Destiny game and its first major DLC will be an Xbox 360 and Xbox 720 timed exclusive for Fall 2013. Bungie and Activision then have the “option” to release the game on PS3/PS4 in Fall 2014 if they still wish. The next 3 Destiny games after that would then be multiplatform.

Now this court filing is nearly a year old, and a lot could have happened in this time – after all, one supposedly leaked image showed a PS3 logo – but it certainly points to the first Destiny game being a timed exclusive (possibly even a full-on exclusive) for Xbox consoles. Considering the fact that Bungie and Microsoft have obvious close ties, Bungie’s fanbase are all Xbox owners and Activision already has strong ties with Microsoft when it comes to their other shooter, Call of Duty. It also doesn’t seem too unlikely to imagine Microsoft spending big to capture this timed exclusive – they love timed exclusives, they have tons of money which they are willing to spend, and they have an audience that loves shooters.

The problem is that timed exclusives are flawed, from the publisher and developer’s perspective. Sure, they get a ton of money for the first game, but after that? Bungie plans to make 4 Destiny titles as well as 4 substantial DLC releases (codenamed Comet) all the way up until 2020, but from the outset they are ruining their chances with half of the console market. A long delay on one platform doesn’t just put people off, but it means that much of the hype is lost. Particularly with a high-retention MMO game like this, getting people hooked to the ecosystem a soon as possible is the most logical path, but it sadly looks like that might be off the table. Destiny will definitely be a huge hit on the Xbox 360 and 720, but it is going to struggle on the PS3 and PS4 if it is blatantly treated like a lesser market.

I hope that the document is outdated, that Activision’s plans have changed. I hope this not for the sake of the PS3 and PS4, but for the sake of Destiny. If Bungie wants to succeed outside of the Xbox demographic, then they need to actually try to embrace the PlayStation demographic.

Dan: Exactly, as great as it would be to see a Bungie IP on a Sony console this year, given that we haven’t seen one since Oni on the PS2, the chance of that happening are slim, especially with all of the leaked documents. Microsoft knows that they owe much of their success with the Xbox 360 to the exclusivity they held for the Halo franchise, and their ability to have gained timed exclusives for the Call of Duty DLC and Grand Theft Auto IV DLC – both of which were helpful in pulling gamers to their console instead of the opposition, and became methods to further relations with developers. Given that Microsoft has already worked with Activision to secure timed exclusives, it could point to Destiny having a timed release. Whether this means that we will see something similar to EA’s Mass Effect series, where the first installment of the trilogy was not available on the PS3, until after the second and third titles released, or that we will something closer to the first BioShock which which had a closer multiplatform release, it is still to be determined. Both releases were still successful on the Xbox 360, but by the time they reached the PS3, quite a bit of buzz from the initial launch had already faded away.

While many gamers might perceive that a delay will have little effect on the overall outcome of a game’s sales, as it will still release on both the PS3 and 360, they forget that there are numerous factors that drive sales. The first and most prominent example from this generation has been the way Mass Effect was handled for the PS3. The first Mass Effect game was released as a Microsoft exclusive, that was to never be launched outside of the Xbox 360 and PC, which became an issue for fans when the sequel did eventually find its way onto a PlayStation platform. Mass Effect 2 launched on the PS3 a year later than its 360 counterpart, and had only an interactive comic to try and wrap up the story from the original. This delay, and lack of heritage, did not stop the successor form selling a bit over a million 1 million copies on the PS3, but when compared to the 360 moving well over double that many units with nearly 3 million units sold, the effect becomes apparent. Simply by denying gamers the ability to play the full story, and by delaying the time between launches, EA dropped sales by more than half. Hopefully this is not something that Activision will pursue with Destiny, as I really do not want to have to wait year to see the whole story, and would like to see Sony get equal footing at the start of next-gen.

Given that Bungie will be finally giving details on Destiny on Feb 17th, and that the PlayStation Meeting (where Sony is heavily rumored to talk about the PS4) is on the 20th, there are a few questions that must be answered as to why the announcements are so close. Given that Bungie’s next title will be a big selling point for Microsoft’s next console, there is a possibility that this will be a way for them to pull out some of the hype for Sony’s PS4 unveiling, and show just what the next-box has to offer. Otherwise, if this does have something to do with Sony’s next console, why it is being shown 3 days ahead, instead of being brought on for Sony’s big day?

Do you think Bungie’s destiny is to be forever in Microsoft’s pocket? Will MS use Activision and Destiny to steal the limelight away from the PS4? Are there enough sci-fi shooters as it is? Let us know what you think in that there comments box you can see, or by clicking on over to Seb and Dan on Twitter and spamming them.

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