While Activision is no longer sharing specific sales numbers about nearly any of their games.
the NPD is still tracking retail sales, and it’s got some not great news for Destiny 2 this fall.
Compared to the same launch window period in 2014, retail sales, aka physical sales of Destiny 2 are down 50% from the original in the US. This news caused many analysts to wince, saying that figure was below their expectations, and Activision’s stock slid a few points when the news broke.
But is this as bad as it sounds? It’s a complicated issue.
The first line of defense is that “of course physical sales are down from 2014.” And that’s true, the industry is constantly moving away from physical media toward a larger and larger share being digital instead. However, even accounting for that, it seems like that is not enough to bridge the gap of this drop.
In a pair of investor calls, one in 2016 and one in 2017, Activision relayed that digital sales for Destiny 1 were in the “high 20s” while for Destiny 2 they were in the “mid 30s.” So even rounding up and saying that the share went up 10%, a 50% drop in physical sales is still a big deal when the majority of copies sold remains in that format.
There are other factors to consider here that may be playing into this, and it would be unwise to leap to an “lol Destiny 2 sucks” conclusion. Keep in mind that Destiny 1 launched in a strange, cross-gen era on four platforms, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4, while it only launched on the last two this time. Back then both the 360 and PS3 had sold close to 80 million units each late 2014, and they are the 6th and 7th best-selling consoles of all time. As much as Destiny players hated the game having to cater to last-gen, that was a bigchunk of the market. This time around, there are 65+ million PS4s, probably ~30 million Xbox Ones and zero copies to move on last-gen. That’s a muchsmaller starting base.