Why Destiny 2 is the Only Successful Live Service Game


Despite recent trends in gaming studios putting out live service games, many of these have been failures. Here’s how Destiny 2 is an exception.

In recent years, the gaming community has seen countless live service games pop onto the scene, promising an experience far beyond what is typically offered by AAA games. With the hope of a constant stream of content spread out over a number of years, these games promise prolonged experiences that keep the player engaged over an extended period of time, making the typical campaign of 30-70 hours usually offered in single-player story mode seem small in comparison. Despite the allure of these games, many of them are unsuccessful. A major exception to this is Destiny 2.

First released in 2017 as a typical pay-to-play game, Destiny 2 became free-to-play two years later as it switched to a live service model. The game is set in a science fiction world where gameplay is divided between player versus environment and player versus player activity. In this world, players take on the role of a Guardian protecting the humans in Earth’s last city from hostile alien races. Unlike many other games that have stopped service just a few years after their release, Destiny 2 is still consistently updating itself with a stronger community than ever before. In this way, it has really set itself apart from other games.

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Destiny 2 Provides Player Engagement Through Gameplay

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Destiny 2 Season of the Seraph gear display for all three classes

It would be an exaggeration to say that Destiny 2 is the only major live service game that has found mainstream success. However, many other successful live service games fit into one of two categories — MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and games that are exclusively PvP, like Valorant. Of course, an exception to this is Genshin Impact. However, because of the gacha mechanics and the implications that they have, it doesn’t really make sense to consider it in the same sense as these other live service games.

One of the reasons that Destiny 2 is so successful is that it combines elements of the previously mentioned categories. Not only can players team up with others to face the harsh world presented in the game, but they can also face off against these players. As a result, there is a game mode for everyone, no matter their mood or preference, and the game is approachable for people looking for competitive elements as well as cooperative ones. Of course, players are engaged with Destiny 2‘s story, but the reason that they keep coming back update after update is that there is enough engaging co-op and competitive content in between those updates.

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Other live service games have failed to deliver a story that is told through periodic updates, possibly because they don’t have enough variation in the different game modes that they offer. Both Anthem and Marvel’s Avengers, for example, are two major live service games that attempted this and failed, leaving their stories unresolved and players disappointed. Both of these games also exclusively offered PvE with no PvP elements at all. This left gameplay stale and boring for players looking for a challenge.

Destiny 2 Launched as a Fully Fleshed-Out Game

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A squad of Guardians engaging enemies in Destiny 2 game

A very common criticism of live service games is that they are lazy, with studios offering up unfinished games that will be refined as time goes by. Unfortunately, many live service games fit this criticism and launch with a plethora of technical issues that not only affect the game’s performance but the impressions of players. For this reason, many gamers avoid these games at launch and simply never get into them as time goes on.

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However, Destiny 2 did not launch with these same kinds of issues and controversies. Likely because the developers were building on areas of improvement from the first game, Destiny 2 felt smooth, fun, engaging, and most importantly, refined. As such, the game didn’t feel like a work in progress that was hastily launched. This led to it having a great reputation among the gaming community, which only grew as years went by, with more and more people being encouraged to try the game.

When players look for a live service title, they want something that they feel they can invest their time in without it feeling like a waste in the future. They want a game that always motivates them to return. An engaging story, fun variations in gameplay to keep things from getting stale, and a complete, refined product all equally affect a player’s desire to come back for more. Overall, Destiny 2 sets itself apart from other failed live service games by simply delivering exactly what players expect from a live service game.


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