The split identity of Destiny has been something I’ve mentioned in passing and plan on writing about in more detail in the future. But today during a GDC panel, Bungie’s John Hopson cited stats that give more credence to what many of us have been saying: PVP is not in line with the identity of the game. Their findings show that Destiny players spend time doing a wide variety of activities.The breakdown, however, is somewhat misleading, as they break apart all of the PVE activities and leave PVP on its own. So at a quick glance is looks like PVP represents an equal share of how players spend their time. The reality? It barely represents 15% of what players in Destiny choose to do when they sit down to the game. Now, some might say that Patrol, Story, and Strikes take more time by default so naturally claim more of the pie. But the truth is they are pieces of the game that can be engaged with in short bursts just like PVP matches. One strike is roughly equal to one PVP game, so gamers are simply choosing to play the PVE elements of the game more… a lot more.
Insult to Injury
Revealing these numbers in a public setting where the gaming community is watching and reporting is a little confusing to me. Bungie has been more focused on PVP events like the Iron Banner as well as somewhat controversial weapon balancing that is primarily motivated by imbalances in PVP. Large portions of the community have been asking for more PVE content and special events as well as a cease fire on all the weapon tweaking that I argue invalidates many of the player decisions over the last 5 months. Since almost all of promised customization features are absent in the game, the most control Destiny players have is on the weapons they choose to upgrade and use. The continued nerfing and buffing of weapons that were either heavily invested in or cast aside makes the game feel like an imbalanced PVP shooter that keeps having to move the goal posts, instead of a large and custom RPG experience where player decisions impact outcomes and results. So it is doubly frustrating to see that so much focus has been put on the smallest represented portion of the game. And really, is anyone surprised?
Color me un-shocked
The data cited by Bungie is the most unsurprising news since hearing that water is wet. They marketed and built a game that offers a glimpse into what could be a large and expansive massive online RPG experience. So it should come as no surprise that the community is spending almost 90% of its time ignoring the sub-par and unimpressive PVP portion of the game. I’m glad they revealed this data because it’s both affirming and empowering to those of us who ignore the PVP portion of the game both as a matter of protest and because it’s boring and not why we bought the game. Let’s just hope that more gamers and critics latch on to this data and keep the pressure on Bungie to focus on the part of the game that players are both vocally and experientially showing matters more.
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