Destiny 2 developer Bungie is currently facing an uncertain future, with rumors of a potential Sony takeover if their forthcoming expansion, The Final Shape, fails to meet sales expectations. Numerous anonymous current and former employees have voiced concerns about the studio’s financial stability, stating that Bungie may resort to further staff cuts to fulfill their obligations as a Sony subsidiary.
According to an IGN report, Bungie is officially an independent subsidiary of Sony. However, the practical implications may be different. The company’s board of directors consists of both Bungie and Sony representatives, with Bungie’s CEO, Pete Parsons, holding a tiebreaker vote. This arrangement grants Bungie more control over their direction than Sony. Nonetheless, sources cited by IGN suggest that the split board structure is contingent on Bungie meeting specific financial goals. Failure to do so could result in Sony dissolving the board and taking full control.
Considering that The Final Shape has been delayed until Bungie’s next fiscal year, coupled with the ongoing expenses of the Marathon reboot planned for 2025, many employees fear that the studio is at high risk of falling short of their goals. This raises concerns about possible job losses, as stated by one insider who emphasized the importance of The Final Shape’s success. They revealed, “And the feeling at the studio is that if it doesn’t, we’re definitely looking at more layoffs.”
To mitigate potential financial risks, Bungie has already implemented measures such as layoffs and reduced spending. The November layoffs, which hit a significant segment of their workforce, were allegedly prompted by the looming threat of a Sony takeover. Additionally, the studio has instituted a company-wide hiring freeze, slashed travel budgets, eliminated holiday bonuses, and suspended or ended benefits like employee compensation adjustments and donation matching.
These cutbacks have undoubtedly taken a toll on employee morale, leading to an atmosphere that has been described as “soul-crushing” by insiders. The departures resulting from the layoffs include prominent figures within Bungie, individuals with extensive experience who spearheaded community initiatives. Among them are Bungie’s general counsel, Don McGowan, and the co-heads of diversity, equity, and inclusion clubs Pride@Bungie, Women@Bungie, and Accessibility@Bungie.
Furthermore, reports suggest that Bungie is gradually moving towards outsourcing more of its development. While company discussions have not been made public, insiders claim to have heard talks of shifting away from in-house QA testing. Between October and November, over 10% of the internal QA department was either laid off or fired. Former and current QA testers have shared their struggles with increasing workloads, rising responsibilities, and growing hostility from team and company leadership. They even mentioned being demeaningly referred to as “non-developers” during a meeting.
According to IGN’s sources, Bungie’s leadership discourages employees from openly discussing the layoffs and pushes back on ideas and suggestions coming from lower-level staff. During a post-layoff Q&A session, department heads rejected the notion of company leaders taking salary cuts to salvage a few jobs, stating that Bungie is “not that type of company.”
This entire situation unfolded after Sony’s acquisition of Bungie in January 2022 for a significant sum of $3.6 billion. At the time, Pete Parsons assured fans, stating, “We remain in charge of our destiny,” and emphasizing that Bungie will retain its independence and creative development. However, given the present circumstances, it seems that Bungie’s destiny may indeed be more intertwined with Sony’s than initially perceived.
Bungie finds itself grappling with financial pressures, internal divisions, and uncertainty about its future. The impending release of The Final Shape and the success or failure it achieves will likely determine whether Bungie can continue on its current path or will face a full-scale Sony takeover. The studio’s employees are left anxiously awaiting the outcome, while the specter of further layoffs looms over them. Best of luck to all those affected, as they navigate these challenging times.