Following surprise layoffs earlier this week that saw a number of well-loved veteran employees put out of work, Destiny studio Bungie has released a statement acknowledging that it has "lost a lot of your trust" but says that it remains "intensely focused on exceeding your expectations" with the upcoming Destiny 2 expansion The Final Shape.
"This has been one of the most difficult weeks in our studio’s history, as we've parted ways with people we respect and admire," Bungie wrote. "We’ve spent this week supporting one another, including those who are at the studio, as well as friends and colleagues who no longer are."
The statement goes on to address negative sentiment in the Destiny community. The mood around the game has reached new lows this year, with the game director at one point making a video apology for how communication had been handled. The catalyst for the wave of negativity engulfing the game was the release of the Lightfall expansion last February, which was a substantial step back from the quality of its predecessor, The Witch Queen. Criticism has only snowballed from that point, usually encompassing player burnout with the seasonal model and how its monetized.
"We want to acknowledge the feedback and concerns you have about Lightfall and recent Seasons, as well as your responses to the reveal of The Final Shape. We know we have lost a lot of your trust. Destiny needs to surprise and delight. We haven’t done this enough and that’s going to change."
Somewhat surprisingly, there's no mention of a delay to The Final Shape's release. Following the layoffs, rumors surfaced saying that the expansion had been pushed into June: A Bloomberg report said The Final Shape has been getting good but "not great" feedback internally, which in conjunction with a poor reception to the previous expansion Lightfall and a reported sharp drop in player numbers led management to push back the release.
"We are intensely focused on exceeding your expectations for The Final Shape," Bungie wrote. "Destiny 2 has more than 650 dedicated teammates pouring all their energy and expertise into delivering this epic moment and its subsequent Episodes.
"In the weeks ahead, you’ll be hearing more from us about what’s next on the short-term horizon, beginning with our next Season in late November. Afterwards, we’ll begin to unpack our team’s bigger, bolder, and brighter vision for The Final Shape, as well as the bridge we plan to build to take us all out of this Darkness and into the Light."
The early reaction to Bungie's statement, which is attributed to the "Destiny 2 Dev Team," is not very positive. Fans are critical of the surprising dearth of information about the expansion, and also of the highly-polished but largely vacuous nature of the post itself, which effectively hand-waves the surprise firing of an estimated 100 employees by referring to them as "friends and colleagues who no longer are [at the studio]."
That sentiment echoes the reaction to a tweet released shortly after the layoffs were confirmed by Bungie CEO Pete Parsons, who said it was "a sad day at Bungie as we say goodbye to colleagues who have all made a significant impact on our studio." The passivity of Parsons' statement angered many Destiny fans, who pointed out that he's the still-employed head of the company, and not merely a bystander who feels very bad about the whole thing.
The lack of any comment on the release date of The Final Shape is honestly surprising too. The expansion will conclude the Light and Darkness saga that's provided the narrative framework for Destiny since the release of the original game, and the remaining players are naturally eager to see it end with a bang. Bungie may be reluctant to delay the expansion given the reports of declining player numbers already—pushing it out even further only gives wavering players another reason to move on to other games—but putting it out in half-baked condition could do even more long-term damage to the game.
Locking itself into a new release date at this point might also be unwise: Moving from February to June isn't really enough time to make substantial changes to the expansion, and that could mean even further delays as the new launch date approaches, brutal crunch for developers, or both. But fans expected something in the way of a status update, and to leave them hanging like this with absolutely nothing doesn't strike me as especially well-considered.
For now, the Destiny 2: The Final Shape preorder page still lists February 27, 2024 as the release date. We've reached out to Bungie for more information on the delay reports and will update if we receive a reply.