Activision Split with Bungie

By Randall McGee

On January 10th, 2019, Bungie announced that it would be separating from its publisher, Activision. This split was apparently a happy occurence for the employees of Bungie, as they cheered and celebrated. The main product in question during the split was Destiny 2, which Bungie created and Activision published on the Blizzard platform.

The apparent reasoning for this split is that Destiny 2 did not meet the product gains quota for Activision's standards. There has been tension in the past about ideas and content for Destiny 2 regarding Bungie and Activision, but the tension finally snapped with the lack of profits from Destiny 2. Despite the increased microtransactions and content that Activision repeatedly pushed onto Bungie, the profits were still unsatisfactory. All the same, this split lost Activision a lot of faith from its stock owners and creates a tough situation for Activision.

Bungie is keeping Destiny 2 in the split, presumably because it was created by Bungie and no serious changes are being made to the game. The game will remain on the Blizzard launcher, and gameplay will remain the same. Content already promised to players will be made, and anything already planned out will continue. However, going forward there could be changes in the pace of content, the microtransaction system, and various other things.

Activision stock took a hard hit due to this and caused it to fall 7% after market hours. This was following a shuffle of executives, in which two executives left and new heads were named for Activision, Blizzard, and King. With stock down and profits below standards, Activision is on rocky territory.

What this means for Destiny going forward is simple for a short time and complicated in the long run. Everything planned out will happen, but without the support of Activision and its other companies, Bungie will not likely be able to roll out content quite as quickly. However, the content they do create will be decided entirely by Bungie, so it could be better or more creative content at the cost of time. There will also likely be a new game made by Bungie, possibly a Destiny 3 or something in a new direction. This game will be up to Bungie entirely, so microtransactions and other pricey add-ons may not be as much an issue as they have been for Destiny 2.

Bungie is reportedly in the process of creating a new game and has received $100 million from a Chinese company. This could simply be an investment or possibly a new partnership in the making. The new game could be anything, but it will have the full support of the Destiny community no matter the outcome. Things are looking up for Bungie, and not so great for its former publisher, Activision.

Meanwhile, Activision is under investigation for fraud. Apparently there are some suspicions from stockholders of Activision that officers and directors of the company committed fraud and unlawful business practices. This could mean even worse things for Activision, as these suspicions are very serious and dangerous to the company.

In the investigation, it is apparent that there was a written deal between Activision and the creators of CoD West and Zampella that Activision would not publish any games without written consent from West and Zampella. West and Zampella claim that Activision began secret development of new CoD games without the consent of West and Zampella and changed the setting entirely. What's more, Activision directors disregarded this, and told West and Zampella “not to worry” while controlling their creative freedom while they were employees of Activision. This is part of a legal battle that has been going on for almost nine years, and has gone back in forth in a multitude of legal battles and accusations. If West and Zampella win, they could have partial ownership of the CoD franchise, and possibly sue Activision for the previous profits gained from their past actions. All in all, that would be a serious blow to Activision and all companies tied to it, lowering stock even further.

Bungie was created as an independent company, and in 2000 it was bought by Microsoft. Then in 2007, Bungie split from Microsoft, returning to being an independent company once again. Similar to the split with Activision, the employees at Bungie reacted to the split with cheering and celebration of their new found independence.

In 2010, Bungie signed a deal with Activision for a ten-year publication deal. Under this deal, Bungie created Destiny in 2014, followed by Destiny 2 in 2017. In January 2019, the two companies split.