Activision announced today that Destiny has already sold $500 million in copies to retailers, making it the biggest launch of a new intellectual property ever in the gaming industry. Additionally, the game now has the record for the highest day one digital sales in gaming history.
These aren’t really surprising statistics. After all, what Activision may lack in subtlety, or in fostering innovative titles, they make up for with an unparalleled talent in generating revenue. Considering the fact that their bar for success for a franchise is so astronomically high, there were times in the last gaming generation that I thought they would just focus exclusively on Call of Duty for their big AAA core offering. Sure, they would continue to expand across multiple genres and acquire titles with varying target audiences, but for a long time it seemed unnecessary for them to develop another big budget shooter franchise or a new RPG or action franchise, mainly for lack of a viable substitute to the Call of Duty juggernaut they already controlled. And if Call of Duty was still accelerating in terms of year over year sales perhaps Destiny wouldn’t be here, or at least not as the multi-platform marketing behemoth it has become. Though Activision certainly isn’t hurting for cash, and developer Bungie has an incredibly reassuring portfolio of previous work, many still saw Destiny as a gamble for the publisher when looking at their dizzyingly high standards for success.
But Call of Duty isn’t growing as fast as it once was, demonstrating that even the most successful game franchise has a ceiling for sales. And with this marginal slow down in mind, Activision is hoping to make Destiny their next big thing and are off to a great start in that regard. Although Destiny has only been out for a couple of days, some big questions already come up regarding both sales and gameplay. Do the game’s sales justify it’s insane budget? Does it’s gameplay stand up to the incredibly high pedigree of it’s developer Bungie? What does the Destiny experience feel like for a person who hadn’t fully bought in to the hype? Did Activision’s “gamble” pay off?
The first question seems fairly straightforward. The numbers speak for themselves. After one day the entire budget has been recuperated in sales. These are sold-in numbers, meaning that they don’t accurately reflect copies bought by customers; still, money is money and it’s hard to imagine an excessive amount of Destiny copies collecting dust on any Gamestop shelves in the near future. See, although the hype hasn’t all been positive leading up to the game’s release it has been constantly getting louder. Whether it is good or bad, press is press and Destiny‘s launch has been on the minds of gamers for the better part of a year with more casual customers being brought in quickly by Activision’s aforementioned marketing machine.
I personally was in the camp that was worried but not totally turned off by Destiny, which seems to be about as “negative” as Destiny‘s negative press typically seems to be. I participated in the alpha and beta, and it concerned me that the game would feel lifeless and not have a solid hook to keep me invested, in spite of solid shooting mechanics. Even still, I impulsively preordered a digital copy for my PS4 hours before launch because between what I had seen, what the marketing was promising (alas, I am not totally immune to the hype machine), and what I had experienced from Bungie games previously it seemed worth $60 just to see how such a huge project would pan out.