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Bungie's 'Destiny' a win for gamers, developers

Whether you liked what you saw or not, chances are you played it.

via Bungie/Facebook

Whether you liked what you saw or not, chances are you played it.

There's been no question that Bungie's upcoming Destiny is, ahem, destined to be the marquee title of the new console generation. But the beta has turned out to be a goldmine even bigger than publisher Activision could have dreamed.

The two-week online test run, which ended July 27, brought in more than 4.6 million gamers. If that number sounds high, that's because they don't really go much higher.

"This is the biggest beta of this console generation by a wide margin and the largest console beta ever for a new video game IP to date," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said in a press release. "Hosting a beta at this scale is an incredible feat, so we're thrilled to see the phenomenal response. But the beta is just a taste of what's to come."

But we don't have to wait for the Sept. 9 release date to find out what wonders await in Bungie's followup to their legendary Halo franchise. TechTimes.com pointed out that hackers on Reddit are nerding out over all the code they cracked during the two-week stress test. And even though the beta code is likely woefully out of date, there are lots of goodies worth waiting for.

Like what? Their list of 148 "activities" includes 11 Crucible maps, 32 or so story missions, five playable game zones (Earth, the moon, the Reef, Venus and Mars) and a whole lot more. That goes a long way toward expanding on the missions included in the beta, which largely took place on Earth.

There so much information, really, that it makes me wonder how much of it is vestigial and how much is simply hacker bait left in the code to get people to talk about the game. It certainly seems to be working.

Not everything is peachy, of course; There are complaints about the mission structure and weapons interface out there. The absence of things like proximity chat and a game map have also gotten a lot of online attention. But hey, that's what a beta is for nowadays, right?

For me, the biggest takeaway is that the new console generation may finally be advanced enough to do what gamers (and even developers) have wanted to do for years — try out a game in development and exchange feedback about what works and what doesn't.

It's not likely that only a month out Bungie will be overhauling some of the things being discussed in forums, but thanks to DLC, there's a good chance they can get a jumpstart on patching some things. You don't put something into beta without knowing you've got the bones laid out pretty firmly, but altering a heads-up display wouldn't break the bank for what is expected to be this year's tentpole release on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Surely Microsoft and Sony would allow Activision to cram in some last-minute changes after this beta's headcount.

That's not to say hackers on Reddit or Kotaku commenters have the final say on any of these elements, but thanks to the power of the online gaming community, they have a much louder voice than ever before. In the end, that's of way more value to studios and publishers than a simple server test, no matter how you play it.

— Joshua Gillin writes about video games for tbt*. Challenge his opinions at jgillin@tampabay.com.

Bungie's 'Destiny' a win for gamers, developers 07/30/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 6:34pm]

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