Destiny

Destiny 2 hits new Crucible player record after Bungie disables SBMM

by Isaac McIntyre

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Destiny 2 has enjoyed a monster spike in its player-vs-player playlists this week, after Bungie’s decision to disable the controversial skill-based matchmaking feature in Crucible and Iron Banner game modes last month.

On June 11, the Destiny developers made a big call for their long-standing title. They flipped the switch on skill based-matchmaking, which has been one of the most controversial topics in gaming over the past few years.

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There were a few reasons Bungie decided to remove the unpopular feature from all but their most competitive PvP modes. The devs admitted it would primarily “shorten all queue times” and “improve connection,” both of which had been big problems for the title.

At first, it didn’t look like the change had really helped much. A few more people were playing Destiny in general, sure, but that always happens when a new season begins. Others came back amid the growing hype for Beyond Light too.

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This week, however, that all changed. Iron Banner, one of Destiny’s biggest PvP modes, was re-added this week with new rare rewards. It was the first time Iron Banner had landed without SBMM since Destiny 1, and Guardians loved it.

Destiny 2 had a huge PvP spike with the return of Iron Banner earlier this week.
Bungie
Destiny 2 just had a huge PvP spike with the return of Iron Banner earlier this week.

During the first days of Iron Banner, nearly one million players piled in to play. According to player stat-tracking website DestinyTracker, the Crucible ⁠— which includes both PvP modes and Iron Banner ⁠— spiked at 942.8k concurrent players.

For a long time, Destiny’s PvE side has stood head and shoulders above PvP; missions, Strikes, Raids, and world-zones are all included in this bundle. Yesterday, it had 956.3k, just 13,500 more than player-vs-player playlists.

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Of the 2 million players logging into Destiny 2 this week, nearly half dropped into Crucible.
Bungie
Of the 2 million players logging into Destiny 2 this week, nearly half loaded into Crucible.

Now, Bungie’s much-praised choice to remove skill-based matchmaking from the Crucible likely wasn’t the only reason the game hit the hefty spike. Iron Banner also offers mega-sized rewards many other playlists don’t, so even PvE players load in.

This time around, Guardians can collect 'Forward Path' and 'Fool’s Remedy' as drops in Iron Banner. Enhanced armor mods have also been added as rewards, Bungie confirmed, and players can collect pinnacle gear there too.

That said, Destiny still has had a boost since SBMM was stripped from most of the Crucible playlists. In June alone, the title’s PC player count went up 49.60%, SteamCharts revealed, with an average of 25k more players logging in every day.

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Whether or not that is directly attributable to skill-based matchmaking’s removal or not, it’s still great news for Destiny. The sequel is headed towards its fourth year, and isn’t going anywhere, so a growing population is always a good thing.

Destiny's player count seems to be on the rise ahead of Beyond Light in September.
Bungie
Destiny's player count seems to be on the rise ahead of Beyond Light in September.

The Iron Banner-driven player count spike isn’t the only thing worth celebrating in the world of Destiny 2 this week either. Earlier, popular streamer Sean ‘Gladd’ Gallagher broke his own record for Twitch’s biggest ever sub-train.

In the end, Gladd raked in just under 30,000 subscribers thanks to Bungie’s new gifting program. It doles out in-game cosmetics and banners in return for gifting subscriptions on Twitch. He said was was “blown away” by it all.