Bungie Changes Destiny 2 XP System After Players Discover It Was Rigged

Bungie has announced that it's changing how Destiny 2 handles experience points. The move comes in response to players who have been raising questions about it over recent days, with a growing consensus that the system was rigged.

For a while after starting a new character in Destiny 2, experience points (XP) are what you use to level up. You get more XP, your level climbs, you get new abilities. The usual. Once you've played a few hours and hit the soft-level cap of 20, however, XP takes on a different role. You still get XP, but instead of levelling up, each time you fill your experience bar you get a Bright Engram. Bright Engrams are Destiny 2's loot crates. Each one contains a few randomised cosmetic items such as emotes, ships, and ornaments for your gear. You can also purchase Bright Engrams for real money in the game's Eververse microtransaction store. In the wake of controversies over loot boxes in games such as Battlefront 2, any indication of a rigged system was sure to set players off.

Last weekend, Destiny 2 had its first "Clarion Call" event, which gave bonus XP to players when they were joined by at least one of their clanmates. In the wake of that event, some players noticed that the longer they played, the slower they'd progress, despite the fact that they were repeating the same activities. The first time a player would earn 5000 XP, they'd see a large chunk of their XP bar fill. The second or third (or fifteenth) time they earned the same number of XP, the bar would get a much smaller chunk.

All week players have been sharing anecdotal evidence suggesting that something was off with the way the game displayed XP gains. Yesterday, Reddit user EnergiserX posted a lengthy analysis of XP gains and determined that, according to their findings, the game was throttling XP progress invisibly while telling players they were earning XP as usual.

In a post today on the official blog, Bungie essentially confirmed that players' findings were correct, and said that it is immediately suspending the XP throttling system. Here's the full statement:

We've seen community discussion around XP gain in Destiny. After reviewing our data, we agree that the system is not performing the way we'd like it to. Today, we'd like to describe what's going on under the hood, and talk about what you can expect going forward when it comes to earning XP in Destiny 2.

Currently, XP will scale up when playing longer or fixed duration activities like Crucible competitive multiplayer matches and the Leviathan Raid, and XP will scale down when playing activities that can be quickly, repeatedly chained, like grinding Public Events. We are not happy with the results, and we've heard the same from the community.

Effective immediately, we are deactivating this system.

As a result, players will see XP earn rates change for all activities across the board, but with all values being displayed consistently in the user interface. Over the course of the next week, we will be watching and reviewing XP game data to ensure that these changes meet our expectations, as well as yours. Any additional updates to this system will be communicated to you via our official channels.

The whole issue is a bigger deal than it might otherwise have been chiefly because of the way XP is tied in with Destiny 2's Eververse microtransaction hub. Bungie could have had any number of reasons for designing the XP system the way they did, but many players were quick to ascribe the most obvious (and nefarious) reasoning: That Bungie wants players to feel like they're making progress more slowly in order to encourage them to spend money to get Bright Engrams faster. If players could simply grind public events over and over for XP, they'd eventually get so many Bright Engrams that they'd run out of cosmetic items to chase.

Anger about the XP system has been boiling over in recent days, which has been compounded by disappointment with this week's lacklustre promotional stream for the upcoming Curse of Osiris expansion as well as general dissatisfaction with the state of Destiny 2 two months after launch. In October, game director Christopher Barrett shared a long list of improvements that are in the works, but since then players have gotten scant further information on when those improvements might be coming.

It's nice to see Bungie responding to players on the XP issue, though it feels as though its hand was forced this time around. It's unlikely it will do much to defuse the tensions enveloping the Destiny 2 community, which are only exacerbated each time players have to take it upon themselves to figure out what's going on behind the scenes. Hopefully Bungie's future communications will be clearer and more proactive. Otherwise the tension will only grow.


    I feel like a bigger point should be made about Bungie's response. I actually get their logic and can understand scaling the xp up/down being a "solution".

    But all my sympathy vanishes when I remember that the game still tells you "+5000 XP" when you are actually receiving as little as +800 XP.
    If what you are told you are earning matches what you are earning, then I basically wouldn't care. Even when you throw bright engrams into the equation.

    Fuck you Bungie, not for implementing a scaling XP system, but for hiding and lying to your players about it.

      Exactly, the idea of scaling XP isn't new to gamers, there was no legitimate reason to hide it other than to mislead.

      Agreed, Bungie backpedaling because it got caught with its hand in the till!

      This is all made worse when you consider that the Reddit community discovered the issue and started talking about it approximately 20 days ago, yet no action was taken. Only once the news started to hit gaming sites and blogs did they "step up."

    Is anyone paying real money for the bright engram crap?

      i wouldnt think so as ive averaged 4 bright engrams a week just playing two hours a day on pc. i also have shaders comming out thew wazzoo as well

      Last edited 25/11/17 12:38 pm

      That's actually a good question. I'll admit I'm one of those people who gets sucked into throwing a bit of cash here and there at cosmetic crap in games like Overwatch, Rocket League, whatever. But in Destiny 2, the Bright Engrams seem so pointless, especially considering how easy they (or anything really) are to earn through gameplay. I don't see why you'd ever bother buying one.

        Yeah my thoughts too. All the more bizarre that Bungue would lie about it. I can only assume that non-gamers are making these strange decisions at larger companies lately. Can’t they bring along some of dev team to the meetings before making these damaging decisions?

      I have paid for an ornament, yes. I think I paid about $70 for Destiny 2, for me the ROI is huge considering the amount I've played so far and will continue to play, so throwing in a few extra bucks for some cosmetic items to support a game that I find to be 'good value' isn't too much of an issue.

      Most people don't, but that's not what they're there for. There is a limited group of people in just about every game with microtransactions that dump hundreds of dollars on them, simply because they can. They're called whales.

      It only takes 5% of the population to be buying them for it to be a lucrative setup, given its essentially free money to the company.

    After reviewing our data, we agree that the system is not performing the way we'd like it to.

    Bull. Fucking. Shit.

    It's performing exactly the way you would like to, it's just that players have pulled you up on your shenanigans.

      agreed. also am I shocked Bungie is being dodgy? Not at all.

    AAA game caught trying to fleece players.

    Seems like a recurring theme these days.

    You know the only people who refer to their customers as ‘users’ are tech/gaming companies and drug dealers.

    Last edited 25/11/17 1:25 pm

    Have felt zero compulsion to buy loot boxes in Destiny 2... You get so many handed to you for free it's actually surprising.

    So, the problem isn't that it takes longer to level up to the next, but that it's actually the same needed and it's giving you less while telling you it's giving you the same?

    Well that would explain why I seemed to be earning XP faster today running through an alt character. Scummy move Bungie.

    Further to this., You can pay real money to the eververse vendor and purchase fireteam medalions which will give you increased XP if another person in the team is using one.
    If they still limited those XP gains then it is a bait and switch. Which i believe most countries have consumer protections around.

    It's nice to see Bungie responding to players on the XP issue,

    I say this to my students regularly.

    "I appreciate honesty, I can respect an honest man or woman, even potentially from someone I dislike, because they're telling me something I don't want to hear. I don't however respect you in this case, because you're only telling me this because you got caught."

    Bungie only came forward because they got caught with their proverbial hand in the pie... I wonder if they ever would had they not been caught?

      Exactly, and that's the thing, this issue was raised over two weeks ago on the sub-reddit, without any response from Bungie, however, as soon as some mainstream gaming news outlets started publishing stories about it we saw a very speedy response - on the sub-reddit of all places.

        I mean lets be frank, Destiny has an extremely limited, quite frankly average levelling system anyhow. It could be good to overhaul it completely.

        But not like this.

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