Bungie Fixes Destiny 2's Rigged XP System Only After Getting Caught

Destiny 2, like its predecessor, isn't quite delivering on the initial promise of the franchise nor is it keeping the player base happy at the moment. A lack of end game content and worse, a lack of transparency from developer Bungie, has resulted in a consistent flow of negative buzz on forums and Reddit. But change is coming.

Dedicated Destiny 2 players discovered that Bungie was up to no good with the game's XP system which allows players to continue earning experience after reaching the max level cap of 20. By 'levelling up' beyond 20, players would earn a Bright Engram, the game's version of loot boxes. These loot boxes of course are part of the Eververse store, the hub for real money microtransactions so the rate at which that extra XP, and hence, Bright Engrams, are earned is an important part of the game.

Related: Activision Patents Manipulative Microtransaction-Based Matchmaking

Since this aspect of the game is how Bungie and publisher Activision are milking extra cash from players they have likely designed the game to encourage players to pay more, and they did this by slowing down XP earning rates behind-the-scenes. That was an intentional design choice and arguably a misleading one. Instead of the levelling progress bar filling out at a normal rate, players rigorously tested and discovered that Destiny 2 was cutting the amount of XP earned for activities completed closer together substantially, even up to 95% in one instance.

That means for two+ months since Destiny 2 has launched the game has been robbing players of a massive amount of in-game earnings that otherwise have a real-world value since they're being sold. And Bungie had it running this way without indicating anywhere that this was the case. Sketchy? Yes.

Since players busted Bungie on this manipulation the dev team immediately addressed it with a post on the official website and changed the XP earning system in-game:

We’ve seen community discussion around XP gain in Destiny. After reviewing our data, we agree that the system is not performing the way we’d like it to. Today, we’d like to describe what’s going on under the hood, and talk about what you can expect going forward when it comes to earning XP in Destiny 2.

Currently, XP will scale up when playing longer or fixed duration activities like Crucible competitive multiplayer matches and the Leviathan Raid, and XP will scale down when playing activities that can be quickly, repeatedly chained, like grinding Public Events. We are not happy with the results, and we’ve heard the same from the community.

Effective immediately, we are deactivating this system.

As a result, players will see XP earn rates change for all activities across the board, but with all values being displayed consistently in the user interface. Over the course of the next week, we will be watching and reviewing XP game data to ensure that these changes meet our expectations, as well as yours. Any additional updates to this system will be communicated to you via our official channels.

No mention of making up for the lost rewards or the monetization aspect here of course and there's another layer to just how bad this really may be. As Destiny 2 launched there were licensed tie-in merchandise (Pop-Tarts!) that came with things like XP boosters and the Eververse store also sells consumable, time-limited boosters called Fireteam Medallions and knowing that Bungie was stealing back XP earned, that effectively means these real-money purchases they were stealing back as well. Now it makes sense why the Fireteam Medallion descriptions don't reveal how much more of anything it really gives you. Perhaps it's nothing at all!

How interesting that this only happened after the fact but was such an easy, quick fix. And how awful for this to happen when hardcore players are already vocalizing dissatisfaction with the current state of the game. Even worse that first impressions of Destiny 2's first DLC pack (hint: its new location, Mercury, is tiny) releasing soon are not too positive...

Osiris and his Ghost from Destiny 2 - Curse of Osiris
Osiris and his Ghost from Destiny 2

Bungie's statement claims the XP system was fixed but we don't know what that means or if it was actually fixed yet, so stay tuned! We've reached out to Bungie for clarification on how their downscaling may have impacted real-money purchases mentioned above and will update accordingly.

In the meantime, Bungie Game Director Luke Smith took to Twitter amidst the heat of the all of this and promised information next week on updates and economy changes. The team will also be answering community questions and it's about time.

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