While widespread layoffs occurred at Bungie on Monday, Tuesday was about making sense of the chaos and revealing new information about what happened, why, and how it was tied to Destiny 2’s performance specifically.
I spoke to sources, as I did IGN And Bloomberg, and it’s hard to see the picture through it all, especially if you’re an avid player of Bungie games, including Destiny. Here’s the information revealed yesterday about how this happened, and what the heck is going on there.
- Although it is owned by Sony, Bungie continues to operate as an independent arm. Sony’s broader demand to cut spending led to Bungie deciding on a large number of layoffs (estimated at around 100 employees, 8% of the company), as they decided who was laid off and how that process played out, going back to what was said a year and a half ago That the acquisition will no It means laying off workers. Sony isn’t replacing anyone with internal staff, but some of the cut roles may now be completely outsourced.
- Employees found themselves deprived of access to all their accounts, systems and email before many knew they were being laid off, which was their first indication. Others had brief meetings in which they were told they had been fired, but also told no one. Others discovered that layoffs were happening on Twitter.
- Employees were often not allowed to say goodbye to other team members or exchange contact information, which should have been done after the event. Many team/line managers had no idea who was being cut from their teams until it happened. Some teams only lost a few people, while others were destroyed.
- The company deliberately tried to hide the number of people fired internally, and it was only after the fact that external reports reached the figure of ~100. It turns out that Bungie has fired some of the company’s veterans like its composer Michael Salvatore, there since the pre-Halo days, and Lauren McLeese, who designed the original Halo logo.
- Some employee benefits expire at the end of the month, which means that being fired on the 30th day means just one day of additional coverage for those benefits. Medicare will continue as COBRA coverage for three months, as long as the service interruption period.
- Many employees had unvested shares as a result of the Sony deal that required them to remain with the company for a number of years afterward to redeem them. But this is void if you leave, and this includes redundancy. When that happens, the shares revert back to Bungie, and as such, many employees have involuntarily lost those shares to the company that fired them.
Although Bungie isn’t the first company to implement cold mass layoffs, it all sounds like something from an investment bank, rather than a company that was meant to be a close-knit family. In fact, many employees felt like family to each other, which is why losing 1 in 10 friends overnight is so hard on those who stay. But the way it all played out has been a massive source of anger within the company, and the reason why many want to talk about what happened and what exactly is going on there.
These are layoffs, but more reporting from Bloomberg and IGN has highlighted the problems that led to this mess. At City Hall, Pete Parsons offended many by saying that “the right people” were left to work on Destiny, but Destiny is in rather bad shape at the moment, and in turn, so is Bungie.
- Employees were told that Bungie was on track to lose revenue by 45% 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 failure also comes with fundamental problems for the series.
- Lightfall was a major negative turning point. While achieving a large number of players at launch (this was Steam’s highest concurrent number since D2 launched on the platform), the expansion’s extremely poor reception resonated through the rest of the year and player engagement declined severely.
- Staff were told that player morale was at an all-time low, something the staff themselves had been saying for a long time, and they begged their bosses to make changes that players would come back for, many of which were rejected.
- Now, the previously announced four-month delay for The Final Shape has already been confirmed from both IGN and Bloomberg, but not from Bungie. Pre-expansion sales are down, and the expansion is looking “good but not great” according to insiders, hence the extra time to work on it.
- The marathon has also been postponed to 2025, and there are reports that it may be a bit difficult at present. Marathon would have to be an overwhelming success for Bungie to have a significant revenue stream they can rely on other than Destiny 2.
- Additionally, speaking of revenue, many employees were upset by Bungie’s investment in a sprawling and expensive new 200,000-square-foot headquarters in Bellevue that cost tens of millions to build, even though Bungie is relentlessly positioning itself as a leader in the business remote.
- There is also bad luck. While this may be a bad year for Destiny 2 no matter what, this is also a wild year for game releases, with dozens of top-rated, very good games being released that often run almost endlessly long. It’s a year that offers a huge amount of alternatives for a seven-year-old live-action game like Destiny 2, regardless of the content it produces. So that’s at least a factor.
But it is now difficult to see how the situation will not get worse. I’ve seen community sentiment drop before, but this is how low Earth Core is now after how low this matter has gone. Anger with Bungie’s management led to many players withdrawing from the game or canceling pre-orders for Final Shape. Season 23 extending 6-7 months will mean more player attrition. Given all this, there is a general feeling that fate essentially ends for many after the final form, no matter what is planned. A common industry notion is that Bungie needs to pivot to Destiny 3 rather than letting Destiny 2 flounder endlessly, but Bungie has given absolutely no indication that that’s 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 for Bungie employees specifically, this feels like an actual betrayal, and no one really knows how to be motivated to keep playing, to keep working, after all.
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