OCT. 14, 2014 • After one month in release Bungie, Inc. has released some player data from its online FPS, Destiny game. The average number of people playing the game each day is 3.2 million, with an average daily playing time of three hours. Bungie says there are more people playing Destiny than the number who played Halo 3 and Halo: Reach (combined) over the same period of time. Users are also logging 1.8 sessions a day in Destiny. The shared world shooter was launched on September 9, and estimates are the number of units shipped for the launch globally was up to 10 million. Neither Activision Blizzard nor Bungie have released worldwide unit sales numbers for the game.
Impact: It’s hard to draw clear insights on how well Destiny is doing based on the stats Bungie has supplied. The developer makes comparisons to Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, yet we have to dig deeper to determine whether those titles are apt comparisons. Both Halo games had significant single player campaigns, something Destiny does not have in the same way. Destiny’s campaign resembled massive multiplayer online game content where many players could be in the same game world at the same time and interact with each other anywhere on a spectrum from completely ignoring everyone to grouping up and intentionally completing the same objectives at the same time. The Halo games Bungie points to in its comparisons do offer cooperative campaigns, but they are traditional modes on top of traditional singleplayer modes. In the first month of ownership we don’t really know how many of those Halo consumers went online versus playing through the games on their own. With Destiny offline play is not an option. Taking Bungie at face value, Halo 3 sold 3.2 million units during its first month in U.S. release (2007), while Halo: Reach moved slightly more at 3.3 million units its first month in U.S. release (2010). During the last quarter of 2007, 900,000 units of Halo 3 were sold in Europe. Similarly, Halo: Reach sold almost 1.2 million units the last three months of 2010 in Europe. So if Bungie is combining sales from these two Halo titles for comparison we have a general idea of how well Destiny has sold.
DFC has extrapolated daily active user charts for thousands of console and PC games over the years and most single player games, regardless of how big they launch, quickly fade. Games with extensive online play, such as Call of Duty, have slower decay rates and longer tails. From what we can derive about Destiny, the daily decay in DAU has actually been very mild. This implies that either once people start playing they tend to keep playing on a regular schedule or a new crop of users every day have consistently started playing the game. Given we haven’t heard any further announcements from Activision on Destiny sell-thru, we expect it is more of the former than the latter. This suggests the game has done an excellent job at frontloading sales and retaining users while sales have slowed multiple weeks after launch. So despite some of the criticisms regarding unfinished features, these player averages are solid indicators that consumers are actively playing the title and are likely hungry for richer, more engaging content updates. For a new franchise Destiny clearly has done well but the main issues are 1) will consumers still be playing it a few months from now and 2) will consumers buying new consoles see Destiny as a must have title. The jury is still out on those issues.