Destiny is coming next week and bringing a parade of hype and pre-orders in tow, and perhaps putting future titles in danger. Millions of players are set for three days from now when the game releases, making this new property, potentially, the best-selling of the year. The problem arises when these pre-orders turn out to be for a game that is, in some way, substandard to the product being presented. This game, like several other blockbuster titles this year, could become misrepresentative examples of high sales equaling a quality title.
The pre-release numbers on Destiny are staggering. As of the week of Aug. 23, Bungie’s new title has 874,856 pre-orders on the Playstation 4 alone and just over 2 million reservations in the U.S.. This already has the game poised to be the most pre-ordered new IP in gaming history. Popularity even has retailers turning away pre-orders because of the massive volume of incoming requests. That record was already broken and set earlier this year by another new property, Watch Dogs.
Watch Dogs was hyped to the sky and back; consecutive E3 conventions were devoted by creator Ubisoft to just showing off hacking and other concepts that seemed to make the game a quality experience. As of now, that title is trending at an 80 out of 100 average for Playstation 4 and a 78 on Xbox One according to critics. According to fan reviews, the Playstation 4 version is a 63 average and the Xbox One version is running at a 56. A Microsoft exclusive title that was also launched this year with a lot of hype, Titanfall, currently sits at an 86 according to critics, but only a 63 according to fans for the Xbox One version. The PC and Xbox 360 versions sit even lower with customer reviews.
Titanfall and Watch Dogs were met with a higher wall of criticism because there were promises made that were simply never delivered. Ubisoft intentionally misled their audience with higher graphics than would be available at retail, which upset many people who pre-ordered their game with those visual standards in mind. Titanfall, not unlike Destiny, gave out codes for their beta version, but many felt there was almost no improvements made between that code and the retail code that came months later.
Therein lies a possible foretelling of Destiny endangering future blockbuster titles. Bungie hosted an alpha-stage and a beta-stage, giving pre-order owners a chance to come into their made world with friends and justify their faith. The problem is that nothing seemed to change between the alpha and beta; during that three-month period between, very few alterations seemed to take hold with some areas still filled with “black hole” textures and some parts of the world nearly hollow. Bungie then said that the missions in the beta, including story bits, cut-scenes and mission structure, would not change all that much for the final product. This, as well as growing concern over the game’s length, unnerved some people into backing out of pre-orders completely.
Pre-ordering hyped games is a dangerous proposition, especially ones that are in the stratosphere of Destiny. Many have praised the quality of the early versions, seeing the solar-system vistas as a breathe-taking opportunity of exploration, and Bungie is rumored to have a 10-year plan in place for the title, seeming to promise longevity. Purchasing a game before it comes out is a leap of faith that can lend to a furious reaction should the title not live up to expectations, and could sour customers on future games that are billed as the next big idea. Perhaps, then, raising expectations to nearly impossible heights is something to be avoided in the future, but that’s part of the allure of Destiny and other properties. This title could live up to that height, and that’s enough to take a gamble for many, many fans. Either way, the gaming public, including those millions that have faith in this title, will find out on Sept. 9 when the title will have a chance to break this year’s trend.
Opinion By Myles Gann