Destiny 2 Troll Is Sued As Studio Opens Up About Toxicity Impact

A Destiny 2 Guardian fights Containment enemies with fire aboard the Corrupted Leviathan.

Image: Bungie

Bungie takes a Lot 2 trolls in court. The freshly beaten PlayStation Studio filed a lawsuit last Friday in which one of the players of the loot shooter is accused of serial cheating and harassing the developers. The complaint comes as toxic elements within the Destiny fanbases have led Bungie to keep quiet about its decision making and future plans in the popular live service game.

The complaint, filed in the US Western District Court of Washington, and the latest in a Spree from recent legal action by the studio, Luca names Leone as the sole defendant and accuses him of habitually violating Lot 2‘s Limited Software License Agreement (LSLA). According to Bungie, Leone was banned more than a dozen times for live streaming the game while using cheat software and was also involved in alleged sales Lot 2 decals, including those that may have come from stolen bills. Leone also threatened Bungie’s community manager.

“#NewProfilePic,” the account inkcel tweeted on May 18 along with an image of Lot 2 community manager dmg04’s employee badge (Bungie traced the account back to Leone via a shared email address with the address he used to order merchandise). “Just realized I’m moving to a place 30 minutes away from dmg,” Leone wrote in a follow-up tweet. And then in a third: “He’s not safe.

Screenshot of Destiny player's tweets threatening a Bungie employee.

Screenshot: Twitter / Kotaku

On July 4, a Twitter user asked if anyone in the Seattle area was available to commit arson within 72 hours. Leone responded by volunteering. “By the way, if it’s Bungie HQ, you get a discount,” he wrote. On July 5, Leone tweeted for Bungie to “keep” [its] doors locked.”

Leone did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but did start deleting the previous tweets.

While the studio is asking the court for $150,000 in damages, it also asks the court to block Leone from “harassing, stalking, or otherwise engaging in any unwanted or unsolicited contact with Bungie, its employees, or Lot 2 players.” It’s not clear how the case will unfold, but it underscores all the ongoing discussions about how the people who play Lot 2 interacting with the people who make it.

Lot 2‘s genre-defining success has made others in the gaming industry envy, but it has also created a very unique relationship with the player base. A seasonal model encourages fans to check back regularly for new content and updates, and Bungie publishes a blog post every week to update the community on recent changes and future plans. Sometimes the cooperation between player and developer is very lively. Other times it can be incredibly harsh as loud voices oppose particularly polarizing design decisions.

And occasionally it can be downright toxic. That’s what happened in late May when sandbox design leader Kevin Yanes wrote on Twitter that fan-favorite Titan Exotic armor Twilight Garrison would never reprise his role from the first game in Lot 2. “Titans will never dodge the sky, my man, it’s part of the warlock’s identity,” he told one player. “Sorry, but I want to rip that band-aid off.”

The comment became a lightning rod for vitriol and Yanes was forced to temporarily shut down his account. Those at Bungie and in the community gathered around Yanes to evoke the behavior. “The job of a game designer is to weigh the needs of the many against the wants of the few,” wrote senior design leader Tom Farnsworth. “Of course constructive feedback is part of this process, but we don’t tolerate abuse.”

As Forbes‘ Paul Tassic points out, Yanes was one of a number of “talkative” Bungie developers willing to discuss the game on social media. Now Yanes exclusively retweets posts on non-gaming topics, and anecdotally it feels like others at Bungie have backed off as well. That’s what community manager dmg04 said last weekend.

A player tweeted that Lot 2Long a sore spot for the game and believed to be the source of some of its more toxic players, the PVP modes would flourish if Bungie included weekly chats on the subject in its blog posts. “I’m not saying I don’t want udpates,” responded Twitch streamer Falloutplays. “But too many times we’ve bitten the hand that feeds us too hard.”

Community manager Dmg04 agreed. “I dream of a day when video game developers (from whatever studio) can talk openly about their work without being harassed,” he wrote in response to Falloutplay’s comment. “Instances of harassment from our developers have actively made it harder for us to communicate with the wider community. It’s impacted more studios than just ours.”

While many games deal with toxicity issues, few remain as vocal with their communities as Bungie has in the past. This was part of what’s been especially noticeable over the past few seasons as the studio tried to hold back hints of new reveals The Witch Queen and “Season of the Haunted” to a minimum before finally going live in the game.

“Can we just damn the idea that Bungie isn’t communicating enough from orbit already?” wrote a player. “They can be like 90% of other developers and never communicate outside of patch notes.”

And as dmg04 and others have pointed out, fan harassment isn’t exclusive to Bungie. Last year, Naught Dog developers were attacked after some players had problems with elements of The Last Of Us Part II revealed in pre-release leaks. More recently, developers at Sony Santa Monica were threatened over God of War: Ragnarok still not an official release date at the end of June (a week later he got one). 2022 also marks the 10th anniversary of Mass effect 3 and the abuse flooded with its creators about the ending.

“Many in the comments say they don’t condone harassment,” dmg04 wrote over the weekend. “I hope they also resist if they notice that friends or family are doing it.”

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