The lead-up to season 17 of Destiny 2 went a little differently than most seasons in recent memory. Rather than reveal bits and pieces of upcoming content through This Week at Bungie posts, in-character Twitter takeovers, and so on, Bungie kept the entire project a secret until just hours before release. When Season of the Haunted dropped, players had no idea what to expect. It was an unconventional strategy for a live service game, and an odd move for Bungie, a studio that’s mastered the art of the build-up. And, with less than a month until the release of Destiny 2 season 18, it appears they’re aiming to repeat the performance.
Depending on who you ask, Destiny 2‘s Season of the Haunted was either a welcome surprise or something of a letdown. The early weeks of the season focused on fan-favorite characters like Crow and Eris Morn, allowing players to dig into their personal histories and help them move past their traumas. That was welcomed, as was the return of the popular Opulent weapons and the addition of a new dungeon in Duality. What was less well-received among players was the repetitive Containment activity, the sky-high crafting requirements for the seasonal weapons, and the periods of content scarcity.
As a result, it’s hard to say whether the Season of the Haunted experiment was a successful one for Bungie. The studio’s gone through an odd and difficult few months, with Twitter backlash against developers pushing a few offline and an embittered content creator issuing DMCA takedowns against Destiny 2 YouTube channels spurring the company to take legal action. Bungie appears to be in a big of a defensive position at the moment, re-evaluating its relationship to social media as a studio that’s historically been relatively open to communication with fans.
In a TWAB post last month, Bungie noted that there would be no major announcements until its August 23 Destiny 2 showcase, which is expected to reveal some information about future expansions for the game. As a result, it seems like Destiny 2 season 18 is going to follow suit from season 17, with Bungie keeping its cards close to its chest right up until release (which is also on the 23rd).
Whether that was the plan from the beginning of development or not is impossible to say, but it makes sense for a studio that’s been newly re-acquired (this time by Sony) to reconsider its approach to major releases. When you’re independent — even an independent studio with the history and scale of Bungie — direct outreach to your player base can be a necessity. There are a lot of benefits to that outreach, whether through Twitter, Reddit, or TWAB posts. But it also comes at a cost — putting people in the sights of thoughtless, rude, or downright cruel posters.
With a new influx of cash and support from Sony, the equation may have shifted a little for Bungie. Given the wild few months the studio has had online, management might make the call to pull back from such direct engagement with players. Or maybe Sony suggested it. This is all speculation, but I could easily see this pulling back from off-the-cuff communication to more curated information drops via TWABs and produced videos becoming a trend with the developer. For now, at least, players will have to once again wait until the release of Destiny 2 season 18 to learn what it’s going to be all about.