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Impossible riddles mark Bungie split

Joseph Higgins explains the events surrounding Activision's latest business move.

Destiny 2’s most recent content releases have caused significant controversy among casual and dedicated players alike. The quasi-expansion ‘Black Armory’ has featured weekly unlocks of new content called “forges” which allow players to play a wave-defense mode before being rewarded with powerful new weapons. The most recent, and last, of these was scheduled to be released on Tuesday 8th January but when players loaded into the game they found it was locked behind a puzzle called Niobe labs which at least one player in the world had to complete before the new Forge would unlock globally. This isn’t the first time Destiny has locked content behind such a system; after the release of the previous expansion “Foresaken” the first team to complete the newest Raid wing unlocked new content for everyone in the game’s “dreaming city” location. However, despite the community’s best efforts and some hefty hints from Bungie’s developers at the 6th step, it took over 24 hours to get to stage 7 of the puzzle.

Regardless of this progress, outrage continued to mount as dedicated players switched off their twitch streams, some of which had been running for 24 hours plus and began to give up on the puzzle, eventually causing Bungie to cave in and release the final forge, Bergusia, without anyone completing Niobe Labs on the 9th at 2pm. This is an almost historic moment as not even the entire player-base combined had the ability to unlock the puzzle in 24 hours, where previous content unlocks have taken as few as 2 hours to be accessed by the community. Niobe Labs has since been solved following a further hint from Bungie’s development team which had been accidentally omitted from the game release, revealing the reward to be two simple cosmetic items now that the Forge is already unlocked. Regardless, this has caused Bungie themselves to comment that they are reconsidering the way that content gets delivered in the Future.

Immediately following the Niobe Labs controversy, on the 10th of January Destiny’s publisher Activision/Blizzard announced that it would be breaking the majority of its ties with Bungie and allowing them full publishing rights to the Destiny IP going forward. Whether or not decision has been spurred on by the controversy Destiny has just faced is unknown at this time, however it’s not the first time Destiny 2 has failed to meet the expectations of Activision. An earning’s call in 2018 revealed that Activision were seeking to “accelerate content releases for Destiny to increase opportunities for monetisation.” No matter their motives for dropping the publishing rights for the IP, Activision do not seem to be attempting to kill the game as Bungie have stated the game will continue to be hosted and supported by Activision/Blizzard’s gaming launcher battlenet and as such, the disruption for players following this announcement should be minimal, although without the backing of a major publisher, serious questions remain about Bungie’s ability to self-publish the IP as an independent developer and what their content release strategy will be going forward.

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