Home Gaming Bungie veteran Martin O’Donnell says the Activision deal was “bad from the start”

Bungie veteran Martin O’Donnell says the Activision deal was “bad from the start”

3 min read

Ten years! Many games! An evolving universe where players could drop in and out whenever they wanted to! When Destiny was first announced all those years ago, Bungie’s grand plan to partner with Activision Blizzard raised a few eyebrows. A deal had been struck, a decade-long plan was laid out and the future still looked bright.

And then Destiny arrived, to lukewarm fanfare. The massively hyped game had some neat ideas and its core systems were novel at the time as it set the benchmark for the live service genre of video games, but it would be many months before Bungie’s bold new franchise managed to shed the growing pains of its debut and chart a more stable course. Destiny today, is a sprawling collection of sandboxes and ideas, one built on a whole lot of trial and error.

Ever since Bungie divorced themselves of Activision Blizzard, the game has continued to improve and may fans believe that the partnership was toxic to the health of the game. Former Bungie board director and composer for the first game Martin O’Donnell, would agree with you. Speaking to YouTuber HiddenXperia via GameSpot, O’Donnell detailed how he always had a feeling that something was not quite right with Bungie getting into bed with Activision.

“We knew it was a risk right from the get-go. We almost went back to Microsoft.” O’Donnell 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.’ 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. There are so many scripted answers out there that I hear.

O’Donnell would later be fired fro Bungie’s board of directors, with the game veteran alleging that his ousting came from the rest of the studio’s higher-ups wanting to give Activision more control over Destiny. Especially after his O-Donnell sense went off when one of Activision’s CFO’s at the time compared Bungie to a golden goose that was perfect for some fattening up and a quick kill.

“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.

That was probably my biggest disappointment–we worked for a decade to make sure we could be in a position where we could stand up to the publisher and say, no, we own the IP–you can’t mess with it. And I was overruled and eventually let go.

O’Donnell would later sue Bungie after he was fired, winning that case and regaining stock options in the company. Activision is now no longer involved in Bungie and Destiny, with the studio now plotting its future for many years to come as the space sandbox will receive expansions well into 2022.

Last Updated: July 7, 2020

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