Examples of Damage Control in Gaming: Destiny 2 and the Blight of the Osiris

The original Destiny was held back by serious flaws when it launched in 2014, as players realized it didn’t include as much content as expected. There was a reason why it wasn’t given to critics so they could have their reviews ready for its launch, and they responded by giving it a lower-than-expected reception for a AAA game at the time.

While more content came to the game in the form of free and paid content, including an expansion, Bungie and Activision wanted to make sure Destiny 2 didn’t repeat the issue. Fortunately, it mostly doesn’t, outside a few niggling issues discovered shortly after launch. Those issues, like how Bungie was throttling XP to make sure players couldn’t earn it and bonus rewards too quickly, were fixed when they couldn’t unhear the loud voices demanding change. It’s also had issues online that’s resulted in intermittent and extensive server downtimes. Overall, though, the experience is more polished than its predecessor in terms of its core gameplay, content offerings, and story presentation.

It was smooth sailing for the game compared to a title I’ve featured constantly as part of this “Examples of Damage Control in Gaming” series like Star Wars Battlefront II. But Bungie had to make some kind of significant mistake along the way, which is why you’re seeing this post.

Those enjoying the game were looking forward to having more content to play with the first expansion in Curse of Osiris, which came with new locations and quests. Players enjoyed it, as it presents more of the same action that made the main campaign enjoyable. But those who didn’t purchase the DLC received an unexpected surprise: They were suddenly locked out of high-level activities previously available to them in the main game unless they purchased it.

To be more specific: These endgame activities required for players to be at level 300 to participate in them, while the level cap for the main game is 305. After the DLC released, though, the level requirement for those activities was raised to 330, but the main game’s cap remained at 305. That meant players couldn’t complete them until they ventured through several quests from Curse of Osiris, which allows for players to raise their caps beyond 305. Several players managed to complete the quests before the DLC came out, but those that didn’t had to pay an extra $20 to complete them, though they admittedly received more content besides that. Unsurprisingly, some players weren’t happy about this.

Not to mention that this also prevented Trophy and Achievement hunters from obtaining all of them without paying more money, since these activities need to be completed to obtain them.

The occurrence of this incident wasn’t a surprise to some players, as Bungie did something similar with the first Destiny. Its “The Dark Below” DLC offering also locked players out of activities previously available to them when the level requirement was unsuspectingly hiked, which players felt added to the game’s issues. Others chose to live with it as a feature they’ll have to deal with to continue playing the game, but they were in the minority while others wanted the developers to address this anti-consumer issue.

Upon seeing the upset, Bungie posted an update on their blog apologizing for the move, and released an update that made several changes. The level requirement for the activities has been lowered back to 300, making them playable for those who don’t own the expansion again. The blog post also detailed more quests that will be available for all players, and others that will require the expansion, though some among the latter will be available for everyone during certain weeks. Bungie will also add more timed events going forward.

It’s nice that Bungie did damage control and addressed this, but I’m curious as to what reaction they expected when the decision was implemented. Even though it’s been fixed now, several players are disappointed they’re repeating the same mistakes again, after hoping they learned to avoid this from the reactions to these moves with its predecessor. I’d hate to think that its sales are so good that Bungie doesn’t feel like they need to listen to their fans unless too often.

We’ll be able to determine whether the cynical assessment is accurate in the coming weeks and months, depending on whether Bungie repeats this mistake again with another expansion. Their quickness and humility with addressing this one makes me hope they won’t, as the lower sales for this game out the gate shows how there can be repercussions for too many such actions. But some developers, typically at the behest of their larger publishers, like to see what they can get away with.

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