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Activision’s $500 Million Investment May Finally Pay Off with ‘Destiny 2’

Destiny 2Destiny 2
"Destiny 2." from the creators of Halo, is poised to be one of 2017's top selling games.Activision-Blizzard

It was pretty clear in June that Destiny 2, which hit store shelves Wednesday, was going to be a hit.

Fans, who were allowed into video game industry trade show E3 for the first time this year, stormed the game each morning. On the first day, publisher Activision-Blizzard and developer Bungie had to cap the line after 30 minutes to ensure everyone would get a chance to play. On the second day, the line was capped after 3 minutes.

Given that the first installment of Destiny received a lukewarm response from critics and players, that’s particularly impressive. But Bungie, the creators of Microsoft’s Halo franchise, have a special skill for learning from their mistakes.

That could be good news for Activision, which in 2014 invested $500 million in Bungie to help fund the Destiny series, though (in a striking contrast to most publisher/developer deals) it did not acquire the rights to the intellectual property with that investment.

Analysts have big expectations for the game. Beyond console versions, Destiny 2 is also coming for PC gamers, which will add high margin players. Mike Hickey of Benchmark Capital estimates the game will sell 10 million copies this quarter—and 15 million copies by the end of Activision’s fiscal year.

That’s good, but it will still likely fall a bit short of the Activision crown jewel, Call of Duty. While the 2016 installment fell flat with players, Call of Duty: WWII has received good buzz so far and Hickey expects sales of 22 million copies in fiscal ’17.