Laying out Destiny 2's long-smoldering Crucible woes, game director Joe Blackburn says the studio was at one point unsure of the viability of PvP altogether because it hadn't "seen it move the needle."
Speaking with PC Gamer, Blackburn recounts his return to Bungie in 2020 and describes the general mood around PvP at the time. "I'm not so sure about this thing in the long run," he recalls. "We haven't seen it move the needle. Have we ever been able to satisfy the PvP audience? How do we deliver players what they want?"
This read wasn't exclusive to 2020, either. "Throughout Destiny 2 – for maybe its first six years, including Destiny 1 – there was a sense of: 'Hey, we're putting a bunch of effort into [PvP], but it's not what the community wants," he adds. "Or we're not making them happy'. Even when we put out maps, people would say: 'I don't like these maps, and I wish they were different.'" (Destiny 2 infamously went almost three years without a new PvP map, though it now has some more maps coming soon.) Oppositely, the director says PvE content like the Menagerie was consistently well-received, and that sort of feedback inevitably incentivizes devs to make more well-received things like it.
Blackburn says he himself always regarded PvP as a core tenet of Destiny 2, and one of his first decisions as game director was to affirm that, "Hey, we have to support this thing. We have to figure out how it makes sense."
Fast forward to today and Blackburn has, on the heels of Bungie's disastrous State of the Game blog post, just promised the formation of a new PvP "strike team" explicitly built for more and bigger updates to the Crucible, including a proper map pack. For PvP enthusiasts, this follows multiple years defined by varying degrees of neglect broken up by inconsistent weapon balancing and largely unsuccessful game modes.
Here's some good news for PvP diehards: Blackburn says Bungie is done with the "sit on the fence" approach for the Crucible. "We don't want to say, 'hey, we're going to try to make every single person happy,'" he tells PC Gamer. "There are really divisive camps, so the way we want to really change our strategy is to be clear about saying: 'This is the PvP audience for Destiny, this is what they want'. We're going to center PvP around our players that enjoy playing Crucible for 20 hours a week. And we're going to make it more optional for players that don't."
"I think that if we are clearer with who we are trying to make PvP for, we can make the right decisions for that group and we can build a thing that people enjoy," Blackburn concludes. "It's definitely a new take, and if this one doesn't work, we'll try something else. We're not afraid of being wrong here. We're not going to let a fear of being wrong stop us from doing something and trying to really nurture this part of the game."