'Destiny 2' is at its lowest Steam player count, what's going on?

‘Destiny 2’ is at its lowest Steam player count, what’s going on?

While Destiny 2 still has its population fluctuating depending on the time of year and the time of a given season, things now tend to go down to a degree that can’t really be ignored.

I was made aware of this fact by my friend Rick Kackis, who made a video pointing out that Destiny 2 has now reached its lowest point in gaming history being on Steam, the only platform where we can really track the exact number of players.

Last week, Destiny 2 reached an average of 60,854 players, which is less than past lulls prior to the release of The Witch Queen or in the doldrums of Season of the Worthy ending. It hit daily lows of around 29,000 players or so during off-peak hours, which might be the lowest we’ve seen outside of actual server downtime.

I’ll start with a few caveats:

  • It’s an extremely competitive time of year with the release of Modern Warfare 2 and Overwatch 2, two games you might consider potential direct competitors to Destiny 2.
  • Destiny 2 is just…extremely old at this point. We’re in year 5 of the games life cycle, and it stands to reason that eventually you’re likely to see declines.

However, that must be frustrating for Bungie, given that on paper Destiny 2 has never produced more content. This season, for example, we had a resumed Destiny 1 raid and two full season activities, Ketchcrash and Expeditions, in addition to mini pirate lord lairs and weekly story beats. The overall volume of content for each season hasn’t been this high since the days of Activision, when Bungie had two full support teams to help out.

For me, the problem is that if there is content to play, there is less and less reason to play it. At least that’s how it feels. In any given season, I’ve done the math and it probably doesn’t take more than about 30 minutes a week to follow the weekly story for the first eight weeks or so when new stuff happens. Real total storytelling time is probably more than 5-10 minutes per week, if that’s the case. That’s more than there has been in the past, but it still doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme.

Then there are issues with grinds, with the power grind feeling unnecessary, titles and triumphs and crafting feeling too messy. Playlists seem outdated, PvP lacks focus. Again, it’s not that the content released each season is itself lacking, I’d say Destiny’s main issue is retention, giving players a reason to stick around and rewards and a seasonal structure that feels too much similar from one to another. Bungie has become a content assembly line, rapidly churning out large amounts of content perhaps better than anyone in the industry, but it… is starting to feel like an assembly line, a paint-by-number parade of the same kind of grind every season. Something has to shake things up.

Bungie is currently gearing up for Lightfall, another big expansion that also follows a similar pattern to previous years. A new subclass, a new planet, a new raid, but still, will it surprise us? Will this engage us? I guess we’ll have to see.

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