Monday, July 28, 2014

Destiny, Destiny, Destiny...

So a lot of people have been exposed to the Destiny beta. If you've been living under a rock, Destiny is Bungie's new IP, kind of like an MMO FPS. (I hope you know that Bungie previously worked on something called Halo, which was kind of popular. Just a little.)

Anyway, so I was playing in the beta for the past few days, realizing that I have very few friends on Xbox Live Gold for the 360 and even fewer friends on PS3. I'm quite sure that of all the people I know and have interacted with, probably 50% of them do have said accounts, but it's just not in my nature to "swap gamertags" unless we have a game in mind. Well, Destiny just might be that game.

Unfortunately, Destiny is only in the realm of possibility right now. The issue is this - after playing Destiny about 3 hours a day for about 6 days, I realized that it's very boring when you don't play with friends. The gameplay is still there, but you lose out on the social aspect.

Pause for dramatic effect.

I prefer single player games. If you look at my games library, it is full of single player titles, where multiplayer is either nonexistent or basically an afterthought. I even play MMOs as a single player, usually not for a prolonged period of time, but it happens. The problem though is that all of these games are RPGs. And an FPS is a different kind of beast.

FPSs scream out for the social aspect. They almost require you to be playing with a buddy on the couch or with friends over some sort of chat server. Frenetic gameplay coupled with a first person perspective means you're constantly looking for your next target and your friends are there to "help" you with that. These past few days I figured out just why I never thought I liked FPSs - I was playing them wrong.

But that brings me to the second issue with Destiny - it's coming out on too many platforms. At launch, Destiny is going to have four separate "servers," for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and PS4. In theory, this is great, because people won't have to upgrade to the new consoles to play this "next-gen" game. The problem comes when you actually think about the future of Destiny.

Destiny is an MMO that lives purely in the console world. Unlike the world of PC gaming, console gamers don't randomly upgrade bits and pieces of their hardware when they feel like it. You upgrade to the next console when you have the means or drive to do so. Personally, I don't feel the need to get an Xbox One or PS4 right now. Neither console has a critical mass of games that I want to play, and the absolute lack of backwards compatibility with my current games and accessories is a big letdown.

If I buy Destiny for Xbox 360, I'm getting an immediate "fix" for this game. However, it should be obvious that the 360 and PS3 don't have a place in Bungie's 10-year plan for Destiny. Microsoft and Sony aren't going to be supporting their older consoles for that many years. There won't be new updates coming for those consoles that far in the future. If you're planning for the long haul, buying for the older consoles is just not smart since you'll effectively be buying the same game twice.

However, as with most MMOs, if you don't get in at launch or near launch, you miss the wider sense of community. The amount of people that play a certain MMO 6 months or a year after launch is much, much different from the amount that log in for the first three months. So then the question is, are you willing to buy the new consoles to cash in on the benefits of playing at launch?

What I'm really hoping that Bungie will announce in the next month is the ability to "upgrade" from the 360 or PS3 game to the corresponding One or PS4 game for a minimal amount of money, say $10. This is what Gamestop and other retailers were offering buyers last year with the imminent release of the PS4 and Xbox One. It makes sense, shows a connection to your player-base, and still pushes people to buy the new consoles. Even limiting the amount of time the promotion would be valid is fine - I think having a year to take advantage of it should be about right.

We'll see what, if anything, Bungie has to say about this. My fingers are crossed.