Opinion: Why Destiny matters

A lot of eyes will be on Destiny when it releases tomorrow. And for good reason, because Destiny stands to affect a whole lot of people.

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It's been ages since Destiny was first revealed to be Bungie's next big project, the product of the studio's 2010 contract with publisher Activision. If certain easter eggs are to be believed, Bungie has had this franchise in mind for far longer than that. Tomorrow is the day that Bungie's latest labor of love finally sees the light of day in its finalized form.

There's no secret that Destiny has been lined up to not only be one of the biggest games of the year, but the next great video game franchise. The aim isn't solely to be a great game, it's to be a gaming phenomenon, not unlike Bungie's last major series. So it's safe to say that a lot is riding on Destiny becoming a success. So on the eve of the game's arrival, Shacknews examines Bungie's latest from several perspectives, analyzing exactly what Destiny means to them.


The publisher

To say Activision has put a lot of eggs in the Destiny basket would be a massive understatement. It's hard to forget that CEO Bobby Kotick famously put the game's budget at a cool $500 million, making it the most expensively-produced game ever made. It definitely shows, between the big-budget trailers (including the live-action launch trailer from the director of Tron: Legacy and the other live-action CG trailer produced by Jon Favreau), the top secret data center, the Google Maps-powered Planet View, the Paul McCartney soundtrack, the insane marketing tie-ins, and all the work that went into both the alpha and the beta. Activision wants to get their money's worth and anything short of a video game culture-changing blockbuster will be considered a failure.

They'll never admit it, but Activision is standing at a crossroads. The Call of Duty franchise that has sustained them for well over a decade continues to show decline, the result of the law of diminishing returns. A large number of the publisher's most reliable developers have been shuttered, including Neversoft, Bizarre Creations, and Radical Entertainment. A handful of others, like the remnants of Neversoft and High Moon Studios (who had suffered their own employment apocalypse), have been shifted to helping keep Call of Duty afloat. Their other successful franchise, Skylanders, remains hot, but is facing its greatest threat to date in the form of the Disney Infinity machine.

It'd be slightly hyperbolic to suggest that Destiny represents Activision's future, but look at the lengths they're going to in order to ensure its success. If Destiny falls short, it stands to be one of the company's biggest failures ever. It would mean they still wouldn't have a successor to Call of Duty. More than that, it could lead to the publisher (as well as all AAA publishers, in general) re-thinking their entire approach to games across all facets. Many consider Destiny to be a sure-fire success, but the thought of anything less most likely has Activision sweating.


The developer

There's a lot of pressure on Bungie. It goes beyond Activision's massive expectations and its bloated budget, which the developer has since gone on to try and downplay as much as possible. When one thinks of Bungie, one naturally thinks of the Halo franchise. These are the people that changed online multiplayer gaming on consoles as gaming audiences knew it. They single-handedly helped make Xbox Live and online console gaming services, in general, what it is today. They defined an entire console gaming generation.

For Bungie, Destiny is their chance to prove that they have more in them than Master Chief.

Bungie's ambitions for Destiny have been laid out before. They don't want this to solely be a futuristic sci-fi shooter. They want it to be a social experience, in which friends can get together and explore vast environments, finding new adventures every day. Even in single-player, Bungie wants players to feel like they're connected to a larger world, one that surprises them with every new session. In short, Bungie wants to re-define the genre completely.

Many games enter the gaming landscape with an aim to re-define the way games are played. Only few are ever successful. Even the most hyped releases suffer from short attention spans, as Titanfall players on PC will attest to. If Destiny fails to meet its lofty expectations, it pigeonholes Bungie into the role of 'the studio that once made Halo.' And with 343 capably carrying the Halo flag into the future, even that label doesn't carry as much weight as it used to.

With all that's been put behind its development, Bungie is aiming for Destiny to be their magnum opus.


The console makers

Even with new console sales through the roof, those that have adopted an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 are noticing a distinct lack of must-own games. Software sales have declined over the summer, with both Microsoft and Sony waiting for a blockbuster to help boost both hardware and software sales. Destiny looks to be that title.

Sony has invested heavily in Destiny, as indicated by the number of PlayStation-only gear, the console bundle, and timed-exclusive content. They already have a handy lead in the console wars, but they're hoping Destiny gives them a major push. Given that many of their first-party exclusives, like The Order: 1886, won't hit the console until 2015, Sony is banking on Destiny to be a big success.

Microsoft should be far more concerned with Destiny, given how much Sony-centric marketing the game has received. There's a good chance the average consumer doesn't even know that Destiny's coming to their consoles. In fact, they've had to resort to phony fragarance ads (that have since been removed) just to get the word out there. With Xbox One continuing to lag behind PS4 in sales, Microsoft is hopeful that its audience (many of whom purchased Titanfall, Destiny's closest competitor) will pick up Bungie's latest and help give them a shot in the arm.

Regardless, Destiny is one of the few games this holiday season that will carry a console-exclusive designation. Without the Steam beast to push them around, it's a chance for the next-gen consoles to prove what they're truly capable of. It goes farther than technical capabilities, but also the social aspects Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Most importantly, however, Destiny is also yet another test of those services' infrastructure. If Destiny sputters out of the gate due to network issues from either XBL or PSN, it stands to be another black eye to a pair of services that have already seen their share of issues over the past few years. Given that even single-player needs an online connection, Microsoft and Sony had better have their services ready, lest they face a major customer backlash.


The gaming public

We save the most important one for last. Why does Destiny matter to the average video game user?

Video games are undoubtedly at their best when there's something new to get excited about. It's been difficult to generate excitement with AAA publishers have pushed out insipid sequels, uninspired rehashes, boring reboots, or worn-out trends. For better or worse, Bungie is trying to create something fresh with Destiny, even if it does look like a run-of-the-mill futuristic sci-fi shooter. And if some of our community threads are any indication, this looks to be far from the usual 'space marine' shooter.

Games that transcend genre are ones that pave the way for future game developers. They're games like Super Mario Bros., Halo: Combat Evolved, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, and Journey. They're ones that make developers stand up and say, "I want my next game to be inspired by that." Destiny stands to be more than a fun experience with friends. If it succeeds, it could be influential to future developers. That could be the greatest reward of them all for anyone that plays video games.

At the end of the day, that's what everyone that's ever picked up a video game should root for. Destiny represents something new, something different, and the potential for change. Remember the earlier points of what would happen if this game fell short? The points about Activision's introspection, Bungie's pigeonholing, and Microsoft and Sony's sales? Those all pale in comparison to what would happen to the gaming public if Destiny doesn't perform to expectations or if it fails to live up to its potential. Destiny's failure would let a lot of people down and turn the gaming landscape into a more cynical place.

Tomorrow, the gaming world finds out if Destiny can live up to its potential and become the game-changer that everyone hopes it can be.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 8, 2014 10:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Opinion: Why Destiny matters.

    A lot of eyes will be on Destiny when it releases tomorrow. And for good reason, because Destiny stands to affect a whole lot of people.

    • reply
      September 8, 2014 10:01 AM

      Today and tomorrow are going to have a lot of Destiny threads on the chatty :)

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      September 8, 2014 10:22 AM

      The Giant Bombcast this morning (still going?) is making me think about grabbing Madden instead of Destiny tomorrow.

      Shame that NHL15 is not purchasable this year.

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      September 8, 2014 10:47 AM

      Destiny matters because of how much money is involved in it. Even if it flops it still matters.

      I wonder what will happen if the game is awful but still sells for billions of dollars.

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        September 8, 2014 2:35 PM

        for precedence, look at CoD

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          September 8, 2014 5:13 PM

          Call of Duty really started when EA cut 2015 out of the Medal of Honor franchise: http://www.shacknews.com/article/19172/ea-dumps-2015

          Most of those developers re-banded as Infinity Ward, and signed a $5M contract with Activision to build a WWII FPS game, which was released as "Call of Duty" in 2003. IIRC, Penny-Arcade praised it as, "Best WWII FPS, goddamnit can we PLEASE have another genre?!"

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      September 8, 2014 11:42 AM

      Destiny matters to me because all the Shack friend requests made me feel loved.

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      September 8, 2014 12:09 PM

      It would matter more if it were on PC too!

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        September 8, 2014 12:59 PM

        yep... not really hyped that much for the next-gen systems. I'm sure I'll get them at some point but likely will be when the game catalogs improve quite a bit.

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      September 8, 2014 12:26 PM

      OK, OK, fuck everything, I pulled the trigger.

      I regret nothing!

      http://chatty.pics/files/download_ax1vx89ipu.jpg

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      September 8, 2014 12:32 PM

      If there is one game that has made me contemplate buying a PS4, it's this one.

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      September 8, 2014 12:34 PM

      man, i'm like the only guy that isn't even remotely hyped for this game. i'm just playing that stupid PT demo and loving it. lol.

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        September 8, 2014 2:34 PM

        whats that

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        September 8, 2014 2:41 PM

        Nah, I have no interest in it either. Dark Souls 2 has my full attention still.

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          September 8, 2014 7:19 PM

          This, so hard. The DLC packs have been superb. Can't wait for the third one.

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        September 8, 2014 3:51 PM

        I have no interest at all in Destiny. It lost me at "Floaty Halo jump MMOFPS".

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        September 8, 2014 4:04 PM

        I keep flopping between "MUST HAVE" and "EH" I can't make up my mind.

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        September 8, 2014 4:24 PM

        If it was single player with a MP component I might be interested. I have zero interest in another MMO, especially one that's limited to consoles.

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        September 8, 2014 4:25 PM

        #AMITHEONLYONE

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          September 8, 2014 4:32 PM

          Dang kids and your hashtags; we used to call it AITOO!

      • ArB
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        September 8, 2014 5:52 PM

        It looks pretty uninteresting to me. If I had bought a console with no games I might feel differently.

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        September 8, 2014 6:42 PM

        I have no interest in it either, it just looks like Halo 5.6 or w/e it is

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        September 8, 2014 7:02 PM

        I didn't care at all until I tried the beta. It's a solid game and I'm excited to play it.

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        September 8, 2014 7:06 PM

        Hi2u no-hype bro

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        September 8, 2014 7:17 PM

        I'm in your boat. I might get it if it turns out okay, but I'm ambivalent right now. I don't like multiplayer games and I burned out on shooters years ago. The only one that could pique my interest is Half-Life 3.

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        September 8, 2014 7:48 PM

        It really isn't doing much for me either. Depending on reviews, impressions, etc I might give it a chance, but so far it looks kinda vanilla - to be fair, I'm not the biggest multiplayer guy. I enjoyed Titanfall because of it's amazing movement system, though I would've preferred those mechanics in a single-player campaign or some kind of wave based hoarde mode.

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        September 8, 2014 11:01 PM

        You're not the only one - I don't care about MMO's. I'd be much more interested if it had a single player component.

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          September 9, 2014 5:05 AM

          It does, although focus is on co-op.

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      September 8, 2014 12:54 PM

      I intentionally didn't pay much attention to Destiny, that way I'm not let down by things that I was hyped about. I know I'll love Destiny, I'm getting the white PS4 bundle, but I'd be lying if I said a tiny part of me wished it would fail so that Activision tanks and has to rebuild.

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      September 8, 2014 2:40 PM

      I've got $20 on Bungies servers taking a nosedive, not PSN or XBL.

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      September 8, 2014 4:59 PM

      Microsoft has almost gone Sega Saturn in their promo-spree: http://www.siliconera.com/2014/09/08/buy-xbox-one-get-free-game-week-hint-destiny/

      News cropped up last week that Microsoft will be offering a well-timed September promotion where buying an Xbox One will net you a free game... This promotion got spiced up today with Microsoft Store offering an extra incentive of $50 in Xbox Gift Card when you buy the Xbox one through them (way to one-up your retail partners, Microsoft).]i

      For comparison, the Sega Saturn "3 FREE GAMES!" ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sok61uLI7Ws

    • reply
      September 8, 2014 5:07 PM

      As a PC player, I have seen nothing whatsoever about Destiny that makes me want to run out and buy a console, haha

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      September 8, 2014 5:18 PM

      I appreciate this article's points, but at the same time, I wish it was a little more self-conscious and had a "Why Destiny Matters to the gaming press industry" section.

      The sheer amount of press time this game has received feels disgusting to me, and I feel like it's a function of how many millions of dollars Activision pumped into its PR plan. I think that Re/Code's Eric Johnson's "Peter Dinklage" clickbait article must rank on Outbrain's top 10 all-time of recommended content revenue, based on how often I've seen it spammed on various websites (...oh look, it's still there on a Re/Code page tonight!).

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        September 8, 2014 5:40 PM

        What else is coming out that deserves more attention at the moment?

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          September 8, 2014 5:50 PM

          In my world wasteland 2. Won't be 10% of the sales but it's a huge moment.

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      September 8, 2014 6:14 PM

      My problem with Destiny is that it's been manufactured in a sterile lab environment with the sole, express purpose of making a metric shitload of money spread over the next decade. Is it new and innovative? Absolutely not--it's just a super-polished rehash of the same old games we've been playing for years, mass marketed with precision-guided accuracy to the 16 to 24 year old male video-gamer demographic. Does it scream of passion? No--it screams of Fortune 500 investors making an extremely safe bet. Will 16 to 24 year old males be racing to the store to preorder it, based on aggressive marketing in every single mainstream media outlet known to man? All signs point to yes.

      This is no Star Wars. This is no DOOM. This is no Harry Potter. This is the culmination of an investor's intense desire to create that kind of revenue stream right out of the gate, fueling the sales with mass-media marketing instead of, you know, actual passion from fans.

      I guess none of this should be a surprise. It's the games industry finally reaching it's final destination, it's true "Destiny"-- becoming Hollywood.

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        September 8, 2014 6:22 PM

        If it's well made and I have fun playing it then who gives a shit.

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        September 8, 2014 6:42 PM

        This reminds me a lot of the discussion in the PersonaGAF podcast "The Waifu of Wall Street": http://slinkfm.com/2014/08/02/episode-39-the-waifu-of-wall-street/

        In that, they cover a lot of things, like traditional marketing versus "priming marketing", "racially unidentifiable" characters in marketing copy, preying on tropes to create "overdesigned" characters, and so on. They also specifically focus on Marie in Persona 4 Golden, and also mention how the Star Wars prequel movies seemed designed to gear up toy sales. And yes, waifus.

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        September 8, 2014 6:47 PM

        Couldn't have articulated it any better.

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        September 9, 2014 10:40 AM

        My exact feelings....the game looks made with a cookie cuter, boring and generic, the only reason why this is big is because the publisher is pumping advertizing/PR money, this is going to be a soulless Michael Bay-esque endless saga.

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      September 8, 2014 6:30 PM

      [deleted]

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      September 8, 2014 6:58 PM

      Not even going to bother picking it up until next week.

      Not that I don't want to play it, just that I have other things going on. I also kind of figure the servers will take a shit early on and Bungie will get it right soon after.

      Prove me wrong Bungie, prove me wrong.

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      September 8, 2014 7:35 PM

      This requires a PS+ account to play solo on PS4? If that's so I guess I won't be getting it.

      :(

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        September 8, 2014 7:40 PM

        got no friends?

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          September 8, 2014 9:19 PM

          Primarily a PC gamer, I got a PS4 for The Last of Us. I'm not going to pay a monthly subscription for something I'm rarely going to use.

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        September 8, 2014 7:48 PM

        + is the best value in gaming

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          September 8, 2014 8:07 PM

          Actually,Steam Summer Sale is the best value in gaming.

          Steam Winter/Holiday Sale isn't too shabby neither.

      • reply
        September 9, 2014 5:11 AM

        I thought PS+ is not required for solo missions and exploration? You still have to be online, I think.

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      September 8, 2014 9:36 PM

      Hey Ozzie.

      I think awhile ago I said I was hoping for the writers to write less reviews, less opinion, and more features.

      Well I'll strike the opinion part. I think your insight into how critical this project is not just to Activision. I am not personally hyped about the game, but how it performs will affect AAA budgets for this cycle.

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      September 8, 2014 10:27 PM

      Has anyone played Lost Planet 2 and the Destiny beta both? Is Destiny more like that or more like Borderlands? Or more like Planetside?

      (I'd rather just play some more Lost Planet 2 actually)

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        September 8, 2014 10:41 PM

        It's like halo with loot.

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          September 8, 2014 10:56 PM

          From watching twitch it doesn't even seem that is much of a thing. Unlike in Borderlands where loot is like crack, largely because of presentation, in Destiny it seems like it's just dishing out reskinnned gauntlets #3442. They don't even appear in the world, just weird glowing blobs.

          The entire 'mmo' aspect seems tacked on. It's weird.

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            September 8, 2014 11:00 PM

            Anyone calling it an MMO doesn't know what an MMO is. It's an instanced game with non-combat gathering areas.

            As for the loot.... I think you should play it to judge. I liked the loot. Generally there was more loot on a mission than I could process w/o it annoying me.

            • reply
              September 8, 2014 11:07 PM

              the loot has levels like diablo? and you move to better areas to get better gear? is it all over gear or just weapons? does it have intelligence or speed buffs?

    • reply
      September 9, 2014 1:32 AM

      If this isn't an exclusive for either XB1 or PS4, and it's such an important title, and Activision always releases CoD on PC, and current-gen console architecture is as close to PC as it's ever been, why isn't it coming out on PC?

      This isn't a PC whinge post, I'm actually curious if they've mentioned a reason why. Seems like they're just missing out on more money.

      • reply
        September 9, 2014 2:37 AM

        Bungie says creating a PC version would stretch their resources too thin.

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