All The Ways Activision Is Avoiding Saying What Destiny Actually Sold

All The Ways Activision Is Avoiding Saying What Destiny Actually Sold

Destiny, a video game in which players travel through the galaxy and battle against random loot tables, is by most accounts a commercial success. But two months after release, publisher Activision still won't say how many copies they have actually sold.

This is typical in the video game industry, where even the biggest publishers refuse to disclose basic sales data, and the most popular sales-tracking website pretty much makes everything up. Video game companies tend to be opaque about these things, which is frustrating for those of us who analyse and critique the industry.

Destiny is an unusual case, though. Savvy observers might have noticed that Activision loves talking about Bungie's much-hyped MMO-shooter. They talk about it all the time. Every few weeks it feels like they're sending out a new set of hilariously meaningless Destiny stats, designed to make news headlines and puff up the game without giving out the one number that actually matters.

With that in mind, it's fun to look at what they actually will send out. So here is a list of Things They will Talk About Besides What Destiny Actually Sold.

How Much They have Sold To Stores

September 10, Activision press release:

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc.(Nasdaq: ATVI), announced today that the company sold more than $US500 million of Destiny into retail stores and first parties worldwide as of day one, making the game the biggest new video game franchise launch in history.

"Based on extraordinary audience demand, retail and first party orders worldwide have exceeded $US500 million for Destiny," said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. "This industry milestone marks another blockbuster success for our company and demonstrates our unique ability to create some of the most successful entertainment franchises in the world. The success of Destiny, along with the recent introduction of Blizzard Entertainment's Hearthstone, is further validation of our unique capabilities to create great entertainment franchises from the ground up."

How Much Money They Made In Five Days

September 17, Activision press release:

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc.(Nasdaq: ATVI), announced today that its highly anticipated new franchise Destiny sold-through more than $US325 million worldwide in its first five days, according to Chart-Track, first parties, retail customer sell-through information and Activision Blizzard internal estimates.

How Many Hours People Played During The First Week

September 17, Activision press release:

According to Bungie, Destiny players logged more than 100 million hours of online play by the end of the first week

How Many Activities People Participated In During The First Week

September 17, Activision press release:

...and participated in 137 million activities.

How Many Awards And Nominations They have Won

September 17, Activision press release:

The game has won over 180 awards and nominations to date.

How Many Times The Average Player Has Played

October 10, Bungie blog post:

The average player has played Destiny 20.9 times.

How Many Players Destiny Averages A Day

October 10, Bungie blog post:

Destiny averages 3.2 million players each and every day!

How Many Players Were Online In Destiny's First Three Weeks Compared To The Same Span For Halo 3 And Halo: Reach, Combined

October 10, Bungie blog post:

Over the past three weeks, we've had more players online in Destiny than we did during the same span for Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, combined.

How Many Millions Of Hours People Have Played

October 16, Sony press release:

Destiny is the most-played title on the PlayStation®4 (PS4™) system with 125 million hours of gameplay.

Just How Much More Played It Is Than The Second-Most-Played PS4 Game

October 16, Sony press release:

Destiny is currently the most-played PS4 game, with total gameplay hours 5X higher than the second most-played title

How Many Hours People Have Broadcast

October 16, Sony press release:

Social sharing is hugely popular among Destiny players, with 450,000 hours of live gameplay broadcasted via the PS4 system's SHARE functionality

What Percentage PlayStation Plus Memberships Increased By In The Week Before Launch

October 16, Sony press release:

New PlayStation Plus memberships increased 115 per cent from the week prior to Destiny's launch

Where Launch Month Retail Sales Rank In The US

October 17, Activision press release:

In addition to strong sales of software at retail in the US, the first month of Destiny included strong digital sales and a very popular PlayStation 4 hardware bundle as well. Incorporating these figures, not only is Destiny the biggest new franchise launch in video game history, its launch month retail sales rank in the top 10 largest of all time in the US*. In fact, it's the only new video game franchise in the top 30 all-time based on U.S. retail sales in the launch month**.

*Source: NPD and Activision internal estimates

**Source: NPD

How Many Hours A Day People Are Playing

October 17, Activision press release:

"We're, of course, ecstatic that Destiny has set sales records. But what we're most excited about is that this is a game that millions of fans can't seem to stop playing. A month after launch, people are still playing Destiny an average of three hours per day, which is phenomenal engagement." said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.

How Many Registered Users They Have

November 4, Activision press release:

For the third quarter, Activision Publishing's Destiny was the largest new franchise launch in video game history and ranks among the top 10 largest video game launches of all time in the U.S. To date, Destiny has more than 9.5 million registered users and our active players are playing the game an average of more than three hours per day.

What Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg Said Yesterday On An Earnings Call When An Analyst Asked How Many Copies They Had Actually Sold

First of all, I think by any measure Destiny's off to a great start. As I mentioned, we were the largest new franchise launch of all time, and despite the large investment... or maybe because of that large investment, we were able to be profitable from day one. And we think it's only a matter of time now before it becomes our next billion-dollar franchise. I also mentioned the pretty incredible engagement numbers. The average player is investing over three hours of gameplay per day, and to date we have 9.5 million registered users.

Of course that's a relationship to sell-through, it's not exact, because some people have more than one identity. But obviously that's directional. So it's a highly-engaged audience that is hungry for more content. And when we've had that, we think we've been good at providing them with more content to satisfy that demand, which we're planning on doing on December 9 with our first expansion pack.

And I also mentioned that we're also already underway on our next full game releases. So we've got a great pipeline of content, a great plan, a great development partner with Bungie, and we're very bullish on Destiny.

So how many copies of Destiny did people actually buy? The world may never know.


    doesn't 9.5 million registered users suggest 9.5 million copies ?

      Nah, as mentioned in the article ".. some people have more than one identity". I only really play as one identity, but I did create a second one that never gets played. I don't think it would be unreasonable to assuem an average of two identities per purchased copy meaning that 4-5million copies were sold, still not too shabby.

      There's some complexities around the fact that you can buy on the old-gen consoles and then take your characters over to the current-gen systems from the same manufacturer and at one point they were offering free upgrades if you got the old-gen game.

      Not necessarily. My brother's a registered user and all he did was create a profile on my PS4 and play my digital copy.

      But how many people do you reckon are doing that? I wouldn't be surprised if it's less than 5%, maybe even 1% of consumers. Which would make the figure maybe 9 million? Which seems like splitting hairs.

    I've enjoyed playing destiny over the last couple of months, but I find it hard to believe some of these statistics. The game is LONELY. I spent over an hour from 8pm AEST on Tueday this week playing and didn't come across another player other than in the tower (where most were just standing around in front of the Cryptarch or bounty tracker). No-one to be found on the strike playlists, no-one roaming the cosmodrome or PissFart Stinks waiting for a public event. I've never played an MMO before but I'm aware of how games like WOW work. I do enjoy shooting aliens in the face (I pretty much exclusively play FPS games anyway), but I'm not getting the sense of community from Destiny that I hoped for. I can accept that the game is designed to be 'played with firends', but as someone who has very few (3) friends who are console gamers, that's not practical. I know I could spend most of my time in the crucible with plenty of other randoms, but that's not why I Bought Destiny - I have BF4 for that. The game really seems to be missing a social dimension for people who don't have a huge roster of online friends, and no real way to make those friends in game. Also, f'ing fusion rifles, I don't like them, don't use then and every time I get a purple engram it's a f'ing Fusion Rifle :-p

    Last edited 06/11/14 1:27 pm

      You get purple engrams??? Agree with you on the community aspect of the game. Most of my friends haven't upgraded yet so I haven't even had a chance to do the raid yet. No matchmaking option on most of the game is a bit of a letdown but I kind of understand why though.

        Yeah, I've had a few. If you do the strike missions solo (either story or vanguard), you can usually pick up a purple engram along the way, or else for your first gold-level public event of the day. The Acheron Priest can be done solo pretty easy in about 20-25 minutes, some with Sepiks Prime. Level 26 Titan Striker (aka bullet sponge).

        Why don't you two extend your friends list to the and search for other people to do the content through those sites?

        The Reddit Community on Destiny is *really* great. My clan helped a deaf dude roll through the Vault the other day and they did it in 1hour 30.

          I've considered doing that, but the point is that Destiny was sold as a 'social' game and it seems a shame that you have to go outside the game world to be social. There seems no real reason to not allow public matchmaking on the nightfall/heroic striks or Raid at the very least. I don't necessarily want to add a friend, just have the system find me someone to play with when I'm online and looking. But if anyone's interested LBurroDelDiablo, on XBone.

            Hrrrm. Does seem it's a LOT higher populated on PS4. Just a quick glance at Kotaku clan shows 7 pages of PSN clan and just 1 of xBox.

            I suddenly have friends on PSN because of Destiny (and Kotaku). I like this. I have meatspace friends but few of them game.

              Yeah, just looking through the comments on Kotaku and it's obvious that there are way more PS4 players than XBone players. The bugger of it is that there'll be even less players on XBone once MCC comes out (good thing I pre-ordered that, Gephyrophobia here I come..).

              Ha ha, checked out the clan on There are 70 PS4 members and 7 Xbone members.

              Last edited 06/11/14 4:04 pm

            My main problem is I play a bit of multiplayer but my girlfriend is normally watching. She looks at me like an idiot when I use a mic and insists on having embarrassing conversations with me.
            I'm on Xbone too so if you want a silent (most of the time) partner.

            Gamer Tag Dim5imKebab

              Cool! I'm not much of a mic user either as my wife is usually watching the TV in the next room. Will add you :-). Yay for kotaku.

      The problem is the game lacks content. It's been over a month, just about everyone playing already has a full set of purples and some epics with nothing left to do but play crucible. Most strikes can be finished in 30 mins MAX. The new DLC will bring diddly squat by the sounds of it. It's really just about crucible, where all that gear you got and leveled doesn't really matter anyway.

      Last edited 06/11/14 1:53 pm

        ???? Where do you get that idea from? The new raid and revamped Iron Banner?

        Get this set of Raid gear so you can have an advantage over the next raid... Makes sense tbh.

      I completely agree, I HAVE played other MMO's and they all feel heavily populated, it's actually exciting if you get a session in by yourself from time to time, but for me Destiny feels so empty. maybe it's the barren map layouts or the small server population size, maybe it's simply because it's the years most exciting 7/10, but other than kids on Saturday morning/night, for the most part I'm in it alone. Also I am the ONLY person I know with Destiny.
      my PSN is drx913 if anyone wants to add me, but I'm on Destiny so infrequently these days that I'm probably not much good

    I saw this morning they're already working on Destiny 2 and that they still have a "10 year plan for the franchise".

    Apparently they have, and I quote: a "Lord of the Rings-sized narrative" planned for the game.
    That’s the funniest thing i've ever heard. You'd be better off suggesting that Bulletstorm was part one of the Godfather trilogy. I mean that seriously.

    Destiny is a good game, hell i'd say it's better than the middling reviews that it's received, but it's not a franchise worth developing from here. I honestly couldn't tell you what the story is about and i've finished the game.
    Something about a garden three different types of aliens..... maybe?

    I'd much rather Bungie took the engine and what they've learnt and start again. I don't mind if the next game is a new space adventure (the worlds ARE cool) but I couldn’t care less about the Destiny world, I’d much rather they employed a (new?) writer and start again.

      In a perfect world, I wish we could have this type of game within the Halo Universe. Oh my god. So glorious.

        That could have been awesome, although at the same time you have to wonder why they didn’t just borrow more cues from their own creation. You don’t need the Halo franchise to make an interesting game.

        Halo 1 had a pretty middling story but it worked because the gameworld was cool and dynamic. There’s no reason at all why the vehicles in Destiny need to be so freaking lame when compared to even Halo 1 and 2.
        Why aren’t I fighting off enemies on cool flying vehicles? Where’s the huge, dynamic tank type bosses? Where’s something even close to resembling a Warthog, of a Scorpion or a Wraith.
        You spend 99% of the game with what is essentially the least interesting vehicle in Halo (that purple bike thing) but without the guns…. And even then you can’t race them or do anything else interesting with them!

        I have no idea how they managed to work on Destiny for as long as they did and still come up with a game that feels like an empty shell. It’s like they went “Ok we got basic on foot combat down, we’ve got an entirely non-interactive gameworld for you to jump around in. Placeholder vehicles- Check. Placeholder story- check. Placeholder enemies- check. Ok, it’s finished.”

          Ive said it time and time again - destiny still feels like a beta of a game its supposed to be and although thats not all a bad thing, at this point in time it is because its so lackluster and waiting for content is kind of lame as it makes your previous gear (and efforts) redundant.

    i was thinking about this and ive got nothing to add.

      Thanks for taking the time though!

        This comment intentionally blank.




          Last edited 07/11/14 12:28 pm

            ^ Ignore. Just trying to get the most blank I can in.

            Last edited 07/11/14 12:29 pm

              Too late, seen it now. I guess that means itr's 'nored' as opposed to 'ignored'.

    OK, an average of 20.9 times seems a little low. That means that a loot-grinder with a 10yr plan and daily quests managed to hold an 'average' of people for one daily login over three weeks.

    On average. Factor in multiple sessions per day thanks to resets to fix errors, and the fact that the game has been out for nearly 60 days, with apparently 3.4 million players logging in every day, which would mean that there's significantly more than that who logged in infrequently enough to drag the 60 day average number of sessions down to 20.

    So several million people (more than 3.4) logged in only a couple of times and never again.

    That's a surprisingly unflattering stat to release.

    Maths brainstorm herein
    4.3mil players in first week (325mil / average of $75 per copy)
    average of 23 hours played per person during first week (100mil hours / 4.3mil)
    div by 3 = 7.6 so approx 3 hours per day as stated clarifies $325mil to be reasonably accurate
    125 mil hours played total at mid october, subtract the 100mil from first week and you have an average of 25mil hours played in the month after the first week, we will be generous and say that that average will stay steady between mid october and mid november
    50mil hours played after honeymoon period div by 180 (average hours played per person over 2 months) = 0.28mil players on average

    Sold 4.3M copies in first week making $325M
    100M hours played during this time
    Drops to 25M hours played for the remainder of the month
    Average of 300,000 people still play on a regular basis

    I would make an estimate of about $450M made and 6M copies sold by November 16th inclusive of DLC, Season Pass, Limited Editions etc.

    Last edited 06/11/14 3:17 pm

      though if I had to make one suggestion to Activision, they need to stop telling us how we are supposed to be feeling or what we are supposed to do (CoD dog anyone? You will be playing this game for 10 years - Destiny marketing department) Make a good game and we will keep playing it. Write an endearing character and we will feel for them.

    While on the subject... the new COD has been out for a few days. Aren't Activision usually pretty quick to start trumpeting how many units it sold on launch day? Is it too soon for them to be doing that, or are they keeping it quiet this year?

    I work in retail and given the HUGE amount of copies our store got sent that are still in the back room unsold...I don't think that's a stat they'd really want to release. Loads of hype for three or four days, and then a ridiculous amount of refunds. 10/10.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now