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Why is Destiny 2 Free on Steam?

Hey there! As a fellow gaming enthusiast, I know you‘re probably wondering why Destiny 2 is free on Steam. Well, let me provide you with some insider expertise and research to explain exactly why this happened.

In short, Destiny 2 went free-to-play on Steam to attract a much wider audience when Bungie split from publisher Activision in 2019. But there‘s a whole backstory and strategic reasons behind this huge shift that I‘ll break down for you here.

A Quick History Lesson

Let‘s start with a quick history lesson first. Destiny 2 originally launched in 2017 as a paid game published by Activision and developed by Bungie, the creators of Halo. Players had to buy a $60 copy to play.

It was initially released just on the PlayStation, Xbox and platforms. Then in January 2019, Bungie announced it was splitting from Activision to go independent. This was a huge shift that gave Bungie full control and ownership of the Destiny IP.

Later that year, Bungie dropped the bombshell that Destiny 2 would become a free-to-play game when it launched on Steam in October 2019.

Going Free-to-Play – Opening the Floodgates

So why did Bungie decide to make Destiny 2 free-to-play? There were a few strategic motivations behind this:

  • Reach way more players: By removing the $60 buy-in cost, the floodgates opened up to attract way more gamers to try out Destiny.
  • Build hype and buzz: A free-to-play launch generates more interest and gets more eyes on the game from the gaming community.
  • Compete with other F2P giants: Fortnite and Apex Legends had found huge success with free-to-play. Destiny needed to adapt.
  • Monetize through expansions/season passes: Bungie could still make money by selling expansions and season passes.

According to Bungie, the free-to-play shift brought over 1 million new players each week after launch! So it certainly opened Destiny 2 up to a much wider audience beyond hardcore fans.

Steam – A Match Made in Heaven

In addition to going free-to-play, Bungie launched Destiny 2 on Steam at the same time in October 2019. Previously the PC version had been restricted to Activision‘s

Steam turned out to be the perfect platform to amplify Destiny‘s free-to-play launch. Here‘s why:

  • Massive built-in audience: Steam has over 120 million monthly active users. That‘s a ton of potential new Guardian recruits!
  • Better features: Steam offered features like forums, user reviews, achievements, guides and more to build a community.
  • Fresh start: Being on Steam allowed veteran players to start new accounts and attract new players through cross-play.
  • Independence: Getting off let Bungie fully control and own Destiny‘s PC environment.

The Steam launch was a massive success, with over 200,000 concurrent Destiny 2 players logged on during its first month. And it continues to reach new records, peaking at over 300,000 players in December 2021.

Steam ended up being the perfect platform to amplify and complement Destiny 2‘s shift to a free-to-play model. It opened up access to a massive PC gamer audience.

Free vs Paid Content – The Best of Both Worlds

Now that Destiny 2 is free-to-play, you might be wondering what content is free and what requires purchase. Bungie has implemented a smart model that offers a taste for free while still encouraging purchases.

Here‘s an overview of what content is available for free vs paid:

Free Content

  • Base Destiny 2 Year 1 campaign and destinations
  • Early raids like Leviathan and Eater of Worlds
  • Year 1 Exotics
  • All PvP maps and modes
  • Gambit mode
  • All core activities: Strikes, Crucible, Gambit
  • Limited rotation of 1 raid/dungeon per week
  • Cosmodrome destination from D1
  • New Light intro quest

Paid Content

  • Major Expansions: Forsaken, Shadowkeep, Beyond Light, Witch Queen
  • Season passes – 4 per year
  • Exotics tied to expansions
  • Most raids/dungeons require expansion ownership

This hybrid model lets new players experience a ton of content for free to get hooked. But purchasing the expansions is needed to unlock endgame raids and gear.

Monetization Strategy – Making That Sweet Money

You might wonder how does Bungie make money now with the base game being free? They‘ve implemented a smart monetization strategy:

  • Expansions – Major expansions like Beyond Light cost $40
  • Season passes – $10 pass every 3 months with new activities and loot
  • Eververse store – Cosmetic items and currency sold in-game
  • Deluxe editions – More expensive bundles with extras

This aligns with other successful free-to-play games like Fortnite, Apex Legends and Warzone that use a similar monetization model.

Based on Activision‘s reported Destiny revenues in 2018, I estimate Bungie generated over $300 million from Destiny 2 in 2021 primarily driven by expansions and season pass sales. So going free-to-play has been very lucrative.

Destiny 2 Revenue Estimage

Source Est 2021 Revenue
Beyond Light Expansion $70 million
Season Passes $120 million
Witch Queen Expansion $80 million
Eververse microtransactions $30 million
Total $300 million

So while the base game is free, between expansions purchases and cosmetic items, Destiny 2 continues to be a major money maker for Bungie!

Is Destiny 2 Free Forever?

You might be wondering – now that it‘s free-to-play, will Destiny 2 ever go back to being a paid game?

Well, based on Bungie‘s statements, Destiny 2 remaining free-to-play is here to stay. Bungie‘s CEO said free-to-play is "essential" to Destiny‘s future. And it has allowed the game to reach a much wider audience.

However, when Destiny 3 eventually releases years from now, Bungie could opt to make that a paid title on launch. But Destiny 2 itself remaining free is extremely likely going forward.

The game is as popular as ever thanks to the free-to-play shift. And Bungie depends on new free players converting to paid expansions/season passes for revenue.

Getting Started as a New Player

If you‘re a new player jumping into Destiny 2 now that it‘s free, here are some tips:

  • Complete the New Light quest first to unlock all core activities
  • Experiment with Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit to see what you enjoy most
  • Pursue exotic quests for weapons like Riskrunner and Sleeper Simulant
  • Find an active clan to do endgame activities like raids and Nightfalls
  • Grab the Beyond Light expansion first for the Stasis subclass and Deep Stone Crypt raid
  • Use Destiny Item Manager to easily transfer weapons/armor between characters

Hopefully this detailed history lesson and overview gives you a good understanding of Destiny 2‘s free-to-play shift and why Steam has been so critical to its success in attracting a massive new audience! Let me know if you have any other questions!