With news of Bungie breaking away from Activision and taking Destiny with them, players are more curious than ever about what this means for the franchise. There are two primary schools of thought on how Bungie could move forward. One suggestion—the ones that fans most support—is for Bungie to maintain Destiny as an ongoing platform, constantly updated with new content and campaign updates World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, or other MMOs. The other is how Bungie was doing things under Activision, which is a game that gets updated and supported for a few years before moving forward to a new title. Fans may be excited for Bungie to move away from the Activision release schedule, but the Bungie Activision split means that Destiny 3 needs to happen now more than ever before.
Presumably, Bungie was gearing up for a follow-up to Destiny 2 under their Activision contract. In fact, recent leaks have talked about the plans for that game, which in hindsight, may actually factor into this whole breakup. Those October 2018 leaks that talked about Destiny 3 hinted at a game that would lean more heavily into its RPG center, a game geared towards the hardcore players. It also said that development on the title had just begun, targeting next-generation consoles in 2020 for release.
Now, that’s presuming a lot of information. Assuming the leaks are true, and assuming next-gen will be here sometime in 2020, the Destiny 3 leak lined up with our knowledge at the time. But how does that all change now that Activision is out of the picture? Perhaps that was the plan all along. Activision, a company keen on keeping its shareholders happy, was already disappointed with the performance of Destiny 2: Forsaken. The massive expansion may not have made Activision too happy, but it was widely considered by players to be the best that Destiny has ever been. Forsaken shifted the focus heavily to the endgame and the grind, reinventing Destiny 2 as a game that could be a long-term hobby.
Bungie’s plans with the Annual Pass continue to support that. Instead of traditional campaign add-ons, the Annual Pass acts as a sort of subscription that keeps players updated with the latest endgame grinds and chases. While there have been some stumbling blocks, most players agree that this is the kind of content that would keep them coming back again and again. So why, after landing on a content release model that works so well for hardcore players, would we even want another Destiny? Couldn’t Bungie just continue to update Destiny 2 with new gear, activities, and pursuits to keep the player base sated?
Why Destiny 3 Makes Sense
Look back again to the timing of the Destiny 3 leak. October 2018. If Kotaku’s Jason Schreier has been accurate in his reporting of the tensions between Bungie and Activision, then it could mean that this split between the two has been quietly in the works for a while now. If Bungie’s been trying to figure out a way to get out of their contract, perhaps those disappointing Forsaken sales numbers were just what they needed to negotiate their exit. Meanwhile, some of the Bungie’s most esteemed leads began development on a game that they knew—or at least hoped—could be developed without publisher oversight. If that were the case, then Destiny 3 could end up being the most pure example of Bungie’s vision for the Destiny franchise.
Some fans are asking why they need to bother making a whole new game though. They’ve got a perfectly good platform in place with Destiny 2. Why not update that instead of asking players to reset one more time, leaving progress and gear behind for another numbered entry? I’m not asking Bungie to just drop the game that players are currently loving. Bungie’s support of Destiny 2 should continue for the time being, but now that they are free from Activision’s oversight, a Destiny 3 absolutely needs to happen.
It’s unclear exactly how much influence Activision had on the Destiny franchise, but Destiny 2 is not purely Bungie. There are systems in place, like the Eververse store and Bright Engrams (Destiny’s version of loot boxes), that are ingrained within the game’s very identity. At launch, Destiny 2 focused a lot on the casual player and handed out a lot of participation trophies. It wasn’t very fun for the player that wanted to log hundreds of hours into the game, playing day after day. Forsaken fixed a lot of that, but trace evidence of that original frame is still evident in the game, and there are areas where players would like it to lean harder into being that first-person MMO shooter. Bungie can patch things up and the game would still be fun, but the Destiny that I really want is one that is Bungie through and through.
Destiny 3 would allow Bungie to build a game from the ground up that is purely them, and it will allow them to do it at the start of a brand new generation. That will give Destiny 3 an opportunity to be the persistently updated MMO-like platform that fans want it to be for the life of the next generation of consoles. There are a lot of good—a lot of great, even—elements present in the existing Destiny franchise, but what would a game without any Activision influence look like? What would a game built entirely for the next generation look like? And at this point, Bungie has two full games and a metric ton of fan feedback from the last four and a half years to work with, not to mention more than eight years of development on the Destiny series altogether. That’s something few other independent studios can tout moving into a new game.
Activision gave Bungie an incredible springboard to work from. They funded an idea, a $500 million dollar idea. That idea paid off at launch, but now that Bungie has complete control of their, ahem, destiny, I want to know where they can take it next. We’re on the precipice of the next generation of consoles, which is the perfect place for Bungie to reset with a brand new game. While I don’t mind—and am even eager to be—playing Destiny 2 for the next year or two, I don’t want to carry it onto the PlayStation 5. It’s time for Bungie to embrace their freedom, and like cleaning out the closet after breakup, get started on a Destiny that is completely Bungie.