Back at BlizzCon the other day, Bungie and Activision announced that Destiny 2 would be free to download to PC for the first half of November, and specifically until November 18. Anyone who claimed their copy by that deadline would own it forever. Why would Activision be interested in doing this? Microtransactions, of course!
Giving a game away for free can prove lucrative, as we continue to see with Fortnite, the crazy-popular battle royale shooter that is generating boatloads of income for Epic Games through in-game purchases. Activision itself is no stranger to microtransactions and the wealth it can generate—the publisher collected some $4 billion from in-game purchases last year.
Activision chief operating officer Coddy Johnson touched on this during a recent earnings call with investors. He noted that Activision wants to "improve the pace of innovation and cadence of in-game content," and that doing so would require finding new ways to engage with players to ultimately make more money from microtransactions.
The publisher is also motivated to beef up its bottom line because some of its franchises are "underperforming," including Destiny.
"Some of our other franchises like Destiny are not performing as well as we'd like... "We have not yet seen the full core re-engage in Destiny, which has led to the underperformance against expectations to date," Johnson said.
Johnson also noted that "some players are in ‘wait and see’ mode. If you’re in, you’re deeply engaged. If not, we think now’s the time to bring players back." Hence the freebie promotion that runs through half of November. Activision is also undoubtedly hoping that players will become hooked once they dip their toes into Destiny 2, and purchase the Forsaken expansion.
Activision's stock has taken a bit of a beating after posting its earnings report and talking about underperforming franchises, and also a decline in monthly active users. The company's share price initially dropped more than 10 percent overnight, and is currently down more than 12 percent