When gamers first discovered the loot caves in Destiny, players clamored for the opportunity to gather mounds of loot by simply shooting into a dark hole. However, the excitement didn't last long as Bungie shut the cave down within a couple weeks of its discovery. Undeterred, players have continued to search for and exploit loot farming locations around the Destiny galaxy – though each one only lasts a short time before it too is shut down by the developer.
Each time a loot cave is patched by Bungie, players raise their voices about the developer's focus on removing exploits rather than fixing other game-breaking issues in the game. When they shut down the first loot cave, Bungie claimed they were closing it because they hadn't designed Destiny for players to just shoot into a cave. Well, it looks like there were other reasons for the closure as well.
In a panel at the Game Developers Conference today, Bungie User Researcher John Hopson provided additional details for why the loot cave was shut down so quickly. The first reason he provided was that the loot cave wasn't actually providing as much or as good of loot that players would get from just playing the game.
"They were very weak enemies that didn't drop very good loot. The funny thing is that we knew about [the loot cave] before launch, we knew that this was potentially exploitable activity, but we didn't care. The actual drop rate per minute spent is not any different than anything else… So you actually will get less loot [shooting into the loot cave] per hour than you would just playing the game. But the players weren't doing the math that way."
Interestingly, Bungie knew about the loot cave ahead of launch, but left it open for player exploit, assuming players would do the math and discover that the loot caves weren't actually as beneficial as they had originally seemed. What Bungie failed to recognize, though, was that many players would rather sit in one spot shooting endlessly into a cave for mediocre loot than progress through the game and work for their loot. There's also the fact that by sitting and collecting loot from the loot cave, players were able to amass a decent amount of gear, which they could in turn sell and then buy the weapons and equipment they wanted for playing the game.
However, that wasn't the only reason Hopson provided for why they shut down the cave. It turns out, there was another, more reasonable purpose for the closure, and one that helps explain the speed by which Bungie made the patch. According to Hopson, "the time of the loot cave was the highest peak of players reporting each other for cheating." Basically, players who didn't like the loot cave would report those who were using it as cheaters. Then, these players would try to block the 'cheaters' from using the cave's exploit. The 'cheaters', in turn, would report the players doing the blocking as jerks. All this reporting likely caused a lot of headaches at Bungie, and kept them from identifying true cheaters in the game. Thus, the cave was shut down and harmony returned to the Bungie offices.
We'll admit that this is actually a very understandable argument, and we wonder why it wasn't provided before. It might be that Bungie was hoping their original explanation would direct players to go back to playing Destiny as it was originally designed and forget about the loot cave. Obviously, players were hooked on the idea of getting (seemingly) quick, easy loot, so the search for loot caves continued – and still continues to this day. However, now that we better understand Bungie's reasons for shutting down the loot cave, it's hard to hold a grudge about the closure. Knowing that Bungie can now focus its attention on taking care of real cheater reports and updating real issues in Destiny due to closing the loot cave, we're happy they made the patch.
What do you think about Bungie's reasons for closing the Destiny loot cave? Do you think it's justified, or would you have preferred they leave it open? Sound off in the comments!