Well, here’s a news item that’s a bit baffling, and sums up some of the current problems over at Bungie. Steam has just released their annual “Best of 2023” list which features several categories grouped into Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze categories, albeit without hard numbers. One of those categories is gross revenue, and the seven year old Destiny 2 has landed a Platinum spot for 2023.
But, of course, this is the same Bungie that just laid off 100 employees two months ago due to what was reported to be a 45% revenue miss for the year. So how do you miss Destiny 2 revenue by 45%, implying some utter tanking in expansion, season and microtransaction sales after Lightfall, but still be a Steam Platinum earner?
The key part here is that this is revenue and revenue projections, not profit/loss. As in, Destiny 2 brought in a lot of money, enough to put it in Steam’s top 12 (and no doubt high on console lists as well that aren’t public), and that’s alongside longrunning megahits like DOTA, Apex and PUBG, and 2023 monsters like Baldur’s Gate 3, Modern Warfare 3 and Hogwarts Legacy. However, Bungie projected much higher revenue than it had for the year, and it missed those numbers by 45%.
The implication there is that Bungie executives really missed the mark with their estimates, which I heard were made based on how well Lightfall sold, and were not that crazy initially. But then a situation was created where the game earned a lot, but not enough to hit those projections that were no doubt promised to Sony. So between that and more general cutbacks at Sony, we get those mass layoffs.
Again, what is not really being discussed here is actual profit/loss. We’ve heard a lot about Bungie’s “burn rate,” as in it takes an enormous amount of cash to keep Destiny 2 pumping out content, between actual production and the salaries of a thousand workers at the company, some of whom are also now working on incubation projects that are not released or earning anything.
It’s true that Destiny 2 is monetized to the hilt these days with expansion, seasons, dungeon passes, battle passes and a microtransaction for every cosmetic humanly possible, even bizarre things like transmog. But again, the game costs a tremendous amount to operate. When things are good, it can be a money printing machine. But when things are bad, it does not take long to go off the rails.
So here we are, in a situation where Destiny 2 makes a ton of money, but not as much money as executives want, and with unknown profit margins that may negate some or all of that earning. As ever, Bungie and Destiny’s future remains nebulous after The Final Shape.
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