While I’m generally against the corporate consolidation of video game companies, I was optimistic when Sony acquired Bungie earlier this year. Nobody does live-service as fairly and as competently as Bungie, and if Sony is finally ready to get in the GaaS game, it couldn’t have picked a better partner. Likewise, Sony’s vast resources and foothold in film and TV presents an opportunity for Bungie to expand Destiny universe. It’s as much of a win-win as this kind of thing can be, and I was excited to see what the next era of Destiny might bring. Unfortunately, rumor has it that the next Destiny game will be a FPS mobile game co-developed by NetEase. That sentence makes me regret that I already used the monkey paw analogy last week, because I don’t think there’s ever been a better example of a wish being granted in such a disastrous way. My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined.
Let us count the ways that this rumored new Destiny game, for lack of a better word, sucks. First is the NetEase partnership. You might recognize NetEase as the co-developers of Diablo Immortal, a casino disguised as a video game whose odds are worse than the sketchiest truck stop video poker machine in Nevada. Diablo Immortal is among the most predatory and disgraceful that mobile has to offer, and its existence is a detriment to the reputation of both the series and Blizzard as a whole, if it’s even possible to further damage Blizzard’s reputation at this point.
Looking at Immortal, it’s not difficult to imagine all the ways that NetEase and Bungie can pervert Destiny into a pay-to-win Skinner box for gambling addicts, and the damage it will do to the reputation Destiny, Bungie, and mobile as a platform for legitimate games. NetEase is on the cutting edge of financial extortion through psychological manipulation, and it could easily adapt the systems created for Diablo Immortal into a Destiny mobile game. All you have to do is replace Legendary Crests and Elder Rifts with Legendary Engrams and Elder Strikes, and suddenly you’ve got players dropping $25 per run for the chance of getting a gun that kills other players faster. As much as I respect Bungie’s current business practices, it’s hard not to feel like the company has just signed a deal with the devil.
And another thing: do we really need another Destiny shooter on our phones? If you have Stadia or Game Pass, Destiny 2 already is a mobile game. What value can a mobile Destiny game add to the FPS experience other than new ways to spend money?
Destiny has such a rich and expansive universe full of incredible history, fantastic characters, and compelling politics, so why expand it with yet another shooter. I had hoped to see Bungie follow Riot’s lead on this (and only this) by exploring different genres and styles of storytelling. League of Legends’ spin-offs include a card game, turn-based RPG, rhythm platformer, auto battler, and soon, a fighting game and an MMORPG. These games bring new players into the world of Runeterra that may otherwise have never discovered it, and they create new avenues for story and world building that League of Legends isn’t capable of. I’d like to see Destiny go in that direction instead of chasing the mobile shooter money.
Mobile games shouldn’t be a cash-in for big studios. There’s no reason that Apex Legends Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, and Diablo Immortal should be worse versions of the game’s they’re based on. Porting all 86 GB of Destiny 2 onto mobile may not be feasible, but a watered down version with more microtransactions isn’t the right answer either. I’m disappointed in Bungie, to say the least. I want to be hopeful, but if NetEase is involved, I have to expect the worst.