Bungie and Activision’s deal for Destiny was as bad as it seemed
Bungie’s deal with Activision for Destiny has been detailed over the years, but now we get more insight into how rough it was behind the scenes. Ex-Bungie employee and industry veteran Martin O’Donnell, who composed music for games like Halo, spoke to YouTuber HiddenXperia about how the deal was “bad from the start.”
“We knew it was a risk right from the get-go,” he said. “It turned out to be exactly as bad as we thought it was going to be. Everybody who no longer works for Bungie is going to say, ‘Yeah, it was bad from the start.'”
O’Donnell goes into how former employees of the studio will agree that the Destiny deal with Activision was a disaster. The executives of the Washington based company would disagree or ignore the long-lasting issues.
“If you still work for Bungie, you’re going to be political and you’re going to say all sorts of things like, ‘Oh, we had a good partnership and blah blah blah we were able to build a wonderful thing. And the time came for us to go our separate ways because we each had different goals but we’re happy and we love each other.’ That’s BS,” O’Donnell said. “There are so many scripted answers out there that I hear.”
What led to the deal in the first place was that the publisher would let Bungie keep its ownership of the IP. Due to its experience with Microsoft as it sold Halo to the company, leading to making decisions on what corporate overlords wanted. To avoid this mistake, it seemed like a good idea to partner with Activision while maintaining control over Destiny.
O’Donnell, who was on Bungie’s board of directors, said it was “non-negotiable” for him with other board members. During these discussions, the company almost reverted to its old ways by striking a deal with Microsoft instead of Activision.
O’Donnell was fired in 2014. He offers his thoughts on what lead to this decision, and it involves how Bungie leaders wanted to give Activision more power over Destiny.
“Here’s the spicy part. Activision not only didn’t have the legal right to mess with the IP. But the only way they would be prevented from messing with the IP is if all the leadership at Bungie said you can’t mess with the IP. And that’s not what happened. And that’s why they fired me,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell went to court against his termination. In 2015, he won his legal case against Bungie. He was awarded at least $142,500, along with a previous settlement of $95,000. The former composer of Halo also received 192,187.5 Bungie shares.
Last year the deal ended as Activision was more focused on money, especially when it came to the monetization methods, while Bungie had its eyes set purely on developing content for the IP.
O’Donnell and others give further details into the trouble of starting a new IP and developing the first Destiny in ex-Kotaku and now Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier’s book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. The book goes into different games and the difficulty that ensued during development. The Destiny chapter reveals problems with Activision, writing the story, and internal issues amongst Bungie employees.
What do you think of the now-dead deal for Destiny between Activision and Bungie? Let us know all of your thoughts on this story in the comments.
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