Bungie's Real Reason For Killing Destiny's Loot Cave Is Not What You Think
Guardians, aka Destiny players, would camp out there for hours, wait for enemies to endlessly respawn, kill them and then collect all of the items they dropped upon dying.
Bungie realized what gamers were doing pretty fast and altered the game's code in an update so that the cave stopped being such a plentiful source of loot. Gamers always assumed that Bungie made the move to keep gamers on a level playing field, Destiny power leveling makes you easier to upgrade, or as just your basic "exploit fix" of the kind that many games patch. Bungie even made a public statement, verifying that "shooting at a black hole for hours on end isn't our dream for how Destiny is played."
But today at GDC in San Francisco, Bungie's John Hopson told attendees that while true, that wasn't the primary reason that Bungie shuttered the loot cave. The real reason is that the loot cave was a total waste of time.
"They were very weak enemies that didn't drop very good loot," said Hopson, as reported by Kotaku. Bungie's developers regularly analyze how players spend their time in the game, and one odd pattern jumped out at them: a large number of players were spending a lot of time firing their weapons into a single cave in Earth's "Cosmodrome" patrol area. They knew immediately what was happening because it turns out, Bungie was well aware of the Cosmodrome loot cave before Destiny even launched.
"We knew that this was a potentially exploitable activity," Hopson explained, "but we didn't care. The actual [loot] drop rate per minute spent is not any different than anything else."
So in the end it came down to the math: players were spending a disproportionate amount of time getting subpar loot from weak enemies, when they could be getting far better rewards for doing pretty much any other activity in the game. Of course, the appeal of a loot cave in any game is the small amount of effort it requires to gain rewards. But developers don't spend thousands of hours building a huge, open world game like Destiny so players can put down roots in one little corner of it.
Wait, though. Bungie "didn't care" about the loot cave, and it wasn't actually an exploit. If it was just a waste of time that a certain percentage of players wanted to spend their time on, what did it really matter? So what if they want to spend their time in the game that way. They paid for the game, so they should be able to play it how they want, right?
Not quite that simple, said Hopson. The ultimate reason they pulled the loot cave's plug was because players were complaining about it. A whole bunch of players. As in, the most complaints Bungie has ever received about any single aspect of the game.
"The time of the loot cave was the highest peak of players reporting each other for cheating," said Hopson, noting that the loot cave was remarkably controversial. It was another phenomenon that Bungie never anticipated.