Sunday, January 17, 2021

Bungie, Are You Listening to the Community, or Just Hearing?

Well folks, another "This Week At Bungie" (aka TWAB) post was submitted this past Thursday, and it has seemingly caused even more community outrage than what it probably set out to resolve.
The issue at hand, once again, is sunsetting. It's a topic of conversation that has continued from the time it was announced, through the time it was implemented, and now after a few seasons of it having taken effect. In this particular case, sunsetting in relation to reissued loot.

Forsaken and Shadowkeep Sunsetting

Since the beginning of sunsetting, one of the top complaints was the sunsetting of loot tied to the Forsaken and Shadowkeep expansions. Some feedback was specific to Forsaken and Shadowkeep by name, while some said that DLC loot should not be sunset. While not the main topic of discussion here, it should be noted that some players may have different interpretations of what "DLC" includes, so keep that in mind.

Nevertheless, Bungie sunset the loot anyway, much to the disappointment of others.

Reissuing of Forsaken and Shadowkeep Loot

First, I want to make something perfectly clear here: a lot in the community did request that Bungie add new perk options to weapons if they were going to be re-issued. This is what Bungie has done in the reissuing of Dreaming City and Moon weapons by introducing them with new perk options, some tied to specific dungeons.

Yet, this still triggered pain points in players for a few reasons:
  1. Players are unable to raise the infusion caps of existing weapons and armor that they have.
  2. Due to (1), players having to re-grind for weapons and armor that they already have completely invalidates grind-time already invested.
  3. Not all loot was reissued: loot that could be targeted via the Lectern of Enchantment was completely ignored. This leaves a lot of expansion weapons still sunset.
  4. For weapons that were reintroduced, there is no guarantee that players will be able to obtain a roll as good or better than their existing rolls.
Let us not forget the blaring issue here: Forsaken and Dreaming City loot was sunset just two (2) months ago, and the player base is now being asked to re-grind again for the sake of grinding.

Content Creator Fatigue and Unrest

In what appears to be a rare instance in Destiny's entire franchise history, the player base and content creators are more or less completely united on the feelings of sunsetting. The recent TWAB has functioned as a tipping point.

While some do not care for or do not agree with content creators, they are still very important for a video game. Content creators were responsible for Among Us going from virtually no players to having hundreds of thousands on Steam alone, and millions when considering its other platforms. The truth is, content creators function effectively as a marketing engine for games. While they are playing a game they enjoy, they are also advertising the game to their audiences. Content creators largely do not play games they do not enjoy and do not play games their audience does not enjoy.

For the past two months now, many prominent content creators have taken to their respective platforms to discuss sunsetting, and with the exception of perhaps CammyCakes and a small handful of others, most have changed from being pro-sunsetting to indifferent or outright against it. These content creators collectively account for all areas of the game, as some focus on PvE, PvP, or both.
Some were against it from the start and had to endure loads of "internet abuse" for putting their foot down so early. Here are some examples:

Here are some examples:
Bonus: In Bungie's tweet for the TWAB, there is quite a bit of feedback about sunsetting and reissued loot.

This should be a no-brainer: content creators actively criticizing the game is not a good look. Even worse are content creators announcing that they are taking breaks from Destiny for an indefinite amount of time, or outright quitting. This markets to their audiences that the game is not fun to play. Destiny should be a fun game.

Players Putting Down Destiny

Due to the introduction of sunsetting, it has fatigued players to the point that they have quit the game, indefinitely.

Joe Blackburn made a point in his "Rewards" TWAB post to the effect of wanting to make every season a good season to get started in Destiny. I feel that this goal was already partially achieved through the availability of viable seasonal loot, as well as the availability of targeted loot farms, such as Nightfall-specific loot (which is now sunset). Sunsetting has the opposite effect as intended, as any returning player will face the reality that their gear is no longer viable. Without sunsetting, they may have not had the newest gear, but their current gear could be used in the meantime. Sunsetting means that all old gear is obsolete, period. When Bungie raises the power floor next season, all gear sunset at the end of Season of Arrivals will likely not be viable even in the base Strike playlist, leaving only the Crucible and possibly the PvE portion of Gambit.

Even targeted loot farms such as the Wrathborn Hunts are no longer appealing. It no longer makes logical sense to put any more time than absolutely necessary to obtain a weapon, because any additional time is additional waste through sunsetting. I can personally attest to this. I have given up on getting a Blast Battue with Spike Grenades, Clown Cartridge, and Chain Reaction. There is no point in me wasting time grinding for a perfect roll when the weapon will be sunset. I surely am not going to waste my time grinding a Blast Battue just to have it sunset and then reissued so that I can have the pleasure of grinding it again.

Player fatigue will continue to build as seasons go on. Paul Tassi argued this point perfectly. Every single season will be about loss instead of gain. Season of Dawn weapons are about to head out the door. Will these weapons be reissued two months later with the expectation that players grind them again? How about Season of the Worthy? Seventh Seraph weapons are some of the sleekest looking in the game and work well with shaders. They are also an integral component of the ecosystem of Warmind Cells. Will these weapons be sunset? Hopefully sunsetting will be reversed by then.

We are now two seasons into sunsetting in its current state. Seven months and counting. The feedback is immense and the damage it is causing to the game is becoming irreparable with players permanently quitting and content creators seriously considering whether they should abandon ship and move on to something else.

Bungie, for once I believe you need to actually listen to the community instead of simply hearing. Sunsetting, while may have made logical sense in some respects, has been a complete and utter failure in implementation. It is time to revert sunsetting and return to the drawing board. Try something else. This is not the way.  It really feels like the game is collapsing in on itself, like a black hole. As a person who really got hooked on this game in August 2020, it is a horrible sight to see.