The Bungie And ‘Destiny 2’ Situation Gets Worse, Per New Info

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While Bungie’s far-reaching layoffs took place on Monday, Tuesday was all about making sense of the mess and uncovering new information about what happened, why, and how it specifically related to Destiny 2’s performance.

I’ve spoken to sources, as have IGN and Bloomberg, and the picture painted through all of this is hard to see, especially if you’re an avid player of Bungie’s games, including Destiny. Here’s the information revealed yesterday about how this happened and what the heck is going on there.

  • Although owned by Sony, Bungie continues to operate as an independent arm. A broader request for cuts from Sony led to Bungie deciding on a large number of layoffs (estimated to be around 100 employees, 8% of the company), deciding who was let go and how that process unfolded, going back to what was it was said. a year and a half ago that the takeover was to take place not means fired. Sony does not replace anyone with internal employees, but some of the tasks may not be completely outsourced.
  • Employees were locked out of all their accounts, systems and email before many knew they had been fired, and that was their first indication. Others had short meetings where they were told they were fired, but also told not to tell anyone. Others found talking about the layoffs took place on Twitter.
  • Employees were often not allowed to say goodbye to other team members or exchange contact information, which had to be done afterwards. Many team/line managers had no idea who was being removed from their teams until it happened. Some teams lost only a few people, others were decimated.
  • The company deliberately tried to hide internally how many people had been laid off, and only then did external reporting reveal the ~100 number. It came to light that Bungie had fired some incredibly legendary veterans of the company, such as composer Michael Salvatori, there since the pre-Halo days, and Lorraine McLees, who designed the original Halo logo.
  • Some employee benefits expire at the end of the month, meaning a layoff on the 30th means only one day of extra coverage for those benefits. Health care will continue as COBRA coverage for three months while the severance pay applies.
  • Many employees had unvested shares as a result of the Sony deal that required them to remain with the company for several years afterward to cash in on the shares. But that’s no use if you leave, and that also applies to dismissal. When that happens, the shares revert to Bungie, and as such, many employees simply involuntarily lost those shares to the company that fired them.

While Bungie is far from the first company to implement cold, mass layoffs, this all sounds more like something from an investment bank than a company that should have been a close-knit family. Indeed, many of the employees felt like family to each other, which is why losing one in ten friends overnight is so difficult for those who stay. But the way this all happened is a huge source of anger within the company, and the reason so many are willing to talk about what happened and what exactly is going on there.

Those are the layoffs, but further reporting from Bloomberg and IGN sheds light on the problems that led to this mess. In a town hall, Pete Parsons offended many by saying that the “right people” should be working on Destiny, but Destiny is in a pretty bad state right now, and in turn, so is Bungie.

  • Employees were told that Bungie was on track for a 45% revenue loss based on previous projections for the year. It’s unclear whether the estimates were too high in the first place (I’ve heard they were unrealistic), but the miss also poses basic problems for the series.
  • Lightfall was a major, negative turning point. Although there were a ton of players at launch (it was Steam’s highest concurrent count since D2 launched on the platform), the expansion’s extremely poor reception reverberated throughout the rest of the year and player engagement declined precipitously.
  • Employees were told that player sentiment was at an all-time low, something the employees themselves had been saying for a long time, and they had begged their bosses to make changes that would bring players back, many of which were rejected.
  • Now, the previously reported four-month delay of The Final Shape has indeed been confirmed by both IGN and Bloomberg, but not Bungie. Pre-sales for expansions are low and the expansion looks “good, not great” according to insiders, hence the extra time to work on it.
  • The marathon is also being postponed until 2025, and there are reports that things may not be looking too good right now. Marathon needs to be a huge success for Bungie to have a significant revenue source they can rely on, and that isn’t Destiny 2.
  • Moreover, speaking of revenue, many employees are angry about Bungie’s investment in a sprawling, expensive new 200,000-square-foot headquarters in Bellevue that cost tens of millions to build, despite Bungie’s ruthless position as a leader in the field of remote working.
  • There is also just bad luck. While this was a bad year for Destiny 2 anyway, this is also a wild year for game releases, with dozens of top-rated, extremely good, often very long games being released almost endlessly. It’s a year that offers a huge amount of alternatives to an aging, seven-year-old live game like Destiny 2, no matter what content it produces. So that’s at least a factor.

But now it is difficult to understand how the situation does not worsen. I’ve seen low community sentiment before, but this is now “the core of the earth” low, after how this happened. Anger among Bungie management causes many players to abandon the game or cancel Final Shape pre-orders. An extended season 23 by six to seven months will mean even more turnover among players. And given all this, there’s a general feeling that Destiny essentially ends for many after The Final Shape, regardless of what else is planned. A common thought in the industry is that Bungie needs to go to Destiny 3 instead of endlessly shuffling Destiny 2, but Bungie has given absolutely no indication that this is the plan.

It’s a terrible situation from every angle. We’ve seen a lot of terrible layoffs in the industry this year, but for those in the Destiny community and specifically Bungie employees, this feels like an active betrayal, and no one really knows how to be motivated to keep playing, to stay work, after all this.

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