In the month or so following Destiny‘s launch, players slowly realised just how much the game depends on random loot drops and rewards – wherein how much you play doesn’t necessarily equate to how much you earn. Players then took this control of loot into their own hands after discovering the fabled loot cave – a cave that Bungie patched soon after. Citing ‘social engagement’ issues at the time, Bungie since revealed the real reason they closed down the loot cave.
Speaking at a GDC panel on how Bungie researched and tested the player experience in Destiny, Bungie’s John Hopson delved into the loot cave, and why it was really closed down.
Bungie found that players spend their somewhat equally across all facets of the game, as shown in the graph below. This cycle breaks, however, when players stop and decide to spend hours in the one spot, shooting into the cave. For such a break in flow and gameplay momentum, you’d want to make sure that this time is far better than the alternative.
Allegedly, it wasn’t.
“They were very weak enemies that didn’t drop very good loot,” Hopson said. “…So you actually will get less loot [shooting into the loot cave] per hour than you would just playing the game. But the players weren’t doing the maths that way.”
Hopson goes on to suggest that the reason players exploited the loot cave in such a fashion is largely because it produces the same rewards with less effort – literally just stand there and shoot into a cave.
Bungie also knew about the issue before launch, but determined it wouldn’t be an issue:
“The funny thing is that we knew about [the loot cave] before launch, we knew that this was potentially exploitable activity, but we didn’t care. The actual drop rate per minute spent is not any different than anything else.”
With that said, the reason Bungie chose to ban the loot caves is – out of all the elements within the game – because of the community. Players would actively troll one another around the cave, report one another, and generally turn pretty hostile.
“The time of the loot cave was the highest peak of players reporting each other for cheating,” Hopson said.
To suggest that Bungie got rid of the loot cave not because of the rewards it provided, but because of the community, is somewhat laughable – they essentially didn’t get in trouble for having the ice cream; they got in trouble for not sharing.
The Destiny community is general a welcoming group, depending on where you look, so if this data is true, then the loot cave may indeed bring out the worst in people. It’s probably for the best that it’s gone – you’re better off running Strike Playlists, anyway.