Despite raking in millions of dollars, Bungie’s Destiny has proven to be something of a divisive experience. Mixed reviews from major outlets might suggest that the game hasn’t lived up to its considerable hype, but a very different picture is painted when you look at statistics released by the studio over the weekend.
Over the course of the first seven days that players had access to Destiny, over 100 million hours of gameplay were recorded — which Bungie community manager DeeJ notes is long enough to watch the Extended Editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy 8,797,652 times.
This breaks down into average play sessions of around three hours, which rises to an average of more than four hours on the weekend. It’s clear that the people who are being hooked by Destiny are well and truly engrossed. This is the sort of experience that players can find themselves getting drawn into for hours at a time — and since end-game raids like the ‘Vault of Glass’ can take 11 hours to beat (or 2 hours if you’ve done it a few times), that’s somewhat essential.
Even the most negative responses to Destiny have mostly agreed that the core gameplay on offer is very good. Destiny is not a game that’s meant to offer the same sort of taut single player campaign as the Halo series, something that has disappointed a segment of its audience. Instead, it transfers a similar style of FPS gameplay to a buffet format, where players can engage in any combination story missions, strikes and competitive multiplayer to propel themselves towards the end-goal of a Raid. Even if it’s the same stuff over and over and over again.
We’re beginning to see a shift of opinion about Destiny, which seems to be what Bungie predicted when they made the decision to deny pre-release reviews. There are still complaints to be heard about the game’s lack of communication and the cruelty of the Cryptarch, which highlight a problematic and punishing looting system — but it seems to be a more constructive sort of criticism than the initial backlash was.
Bungie’s statistics suggest that people are playing a great deal of Destiny, and there’s nothing more vital than an engaged audience to a multiplayer-centric game such as this. With a steady stream of new content and a measured approach to patches and fixes, we might look back on early critical response to Destiny as little more than a bump in the road.