Bungie worked hard to trap you in Destiny

Ever wondered why you’re still playing Destiny? Still grinding for the ultimate pair of boots? Still dreaming about it…? Well the staggering average 77 hours playtime we've all put in so far was helpfully explained by Bungie’s John Hopson at GDC. In his ‘User Research On Destiny ’ presentation he revealed the secrets of the ways the game was tested for the ultimate experience where we'd just keep coming back for more.

Play-testing took place in a specific lab where players of all types tested Destiny. The team identified 5 kinds of players - short and long campaigners, short and long omnivores and the specialist. Bungie focussed especially on the ‘omnivore’, a player type that would play multiple types of content and that’s what it wanted to promote with Destiny’s various game modes.

Testing started an impressive three years before release - months ahead of Halo 2 and 3's seemingly paltry exercises. Bungie was serious about delivering something we just couldn't give up. Needless to say there was serious security in place to make sure there were no leaks but the extra time gave the team the chance to hone the experience and continue to make changes as needed.

Because the feels matter most, emotion was tested at various parts of each map with players pressing a button to identify how they felt. And yes, that meant that for once, the DualShock 4 had an ‘Awesome’ button. Of course it was X. Eye-tracking technology was used for testing the interface and each player was recorded while they played, swears and all.

Hopson himself is a specialist in behavioural game design. With a Ph.D in behavioural and brain sciences, he's dangerously qualified to diagnose when you'd like nothing more than to patrol for six hours straight. You can read his thoughts on behavioural game design here.

And, of course, it worked. Hopson confirmed during the presentation that with 17 million registered players and over 1.1 billion hours played overall, Destiny has an average play time of 77 hours per player. 200 billion aliens have sadly lost their lives in the process and the average daily play time is a not insignificant 3 hours. Here's to the death of another 200 billion...

Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.