While Destiny 2 always has its population ebbs and flows depending on the time of year and point in a given season, things are now trending downward to a degree that cannot really be ignored.
I was turned onto this fact by my friend Rick Kackis, who made a video spotlighting that Destiny 2 has now hit its lowest point in the history of the game being on Steam, the only platform where we can really track exact player numbers.
Last week, Destiny 2 hit 60,854 average players, which is lower than past lulls before The Witch Queen’s release or in the doldrums of the end of Season of the Worthy. It has hit daily lows of around 29,000 players or so in off-peak hours, which might be the lowest we’ve seen outside of actual server downtime.
I will start with some caveats:
- It’s a hugely competitive time of year with the release of Modern Warfare 2 and Overwatch 2, two games that you could consider potential direct competitors with Destiny 2.
- Destiny 2 is just…extremely old at this point. We are in year 5 of the games lifecycle, and it stands to reason that eventually, you are probably going to see declines.
However, this has to be frustrating for Bungie, given that on paper, Destiny 2 has never been producing more content. This season, for instance, we got a reprised Destiny 1 raid, and two full season activities, Ketchcrash and Expeditions, in addition to mini pirate lord lairs and weekly story beats. The overall volume of content each season has not been this high since the Activision days when Bungie had two full support teams helping them out.
To me, the problem is that while there is content to be played, there are increasingly few reasons to play it. At least that’s what it feels like. In a given season, I’ve done the math and it probably does not take more than 30 minutes or so a week to keep up with the weekly story for the first eight weeks or so where new things happen. Actual total storytelling time is probably more like 5-10 minutes a week, if that. That’s more than there has been in the past, but it still does not feel like much in the grand scheme.
Then there are issues with grinds, the power grind feeling pointless, titles and triumphs and crafting feeling overly grindly. Playlists feeling stale, PvP lacking attention. Again, it’s not that the content being released every season is itself lacking, I would argue that Destiny’s main problem is retention, giving players a reason to stick around and rewards and a seasonal structure that feels too similar from one to the next. Bungie has become a content assembly line, putting out large amounts of content quickly perhaps better than anyone else in the industry, but it…is starting to feel like an assembly line, a paint-by-numbers parade of the same kind of grind every season. Something needs to shake things up.
Bungie is currently prepping for Lightfall, another big expansion that also falls into a similar pattern to past years. A new subclass, a new planet, a new raid, but still, will it surprise us? Will it engage us? I guess we’ll have to see.