Bungie announced yesterday that it will now assume full control of Destiny, prematurely ending a ten year contract between it and Activision to launch its first post-Halo project.
The deal was initially signed in 2010 to help the developer secure its independence from Microsoft, which acquired the studio in 2000. In exchange for the money necessary to break from the House that Built Xbox, Activision secured publishing rights for the project that would become Destiny, although Bungie would retain ownership of the IP.
In a statement, Activision said, "Today, we're announcing plans for Bungie to assume full publishing rights and responsibilities for the Destiny franchise. Going forward, Bungie will own and develop the franchise, and Activision will increase its focus on owned IP and other projects. Activision and Bungie are committed to a seamless transition for the Destiny franchise and will continue to work closely together during the transition on behalf of the community of Destiny players around the world."
This development comes after signs the relationship between Activision and Bungie are strained. Despite the fact warm reception that greeted September’s Forsaken expansion, Activision publicly stated that it was a commercial disappointment. In response, Destiny 2 director Luke Smith tweeted, “We are not disappointed. We set out to build a game that players would love, and at Bungie, we love it too. Building Destiny for players whal love it is and will remain our focus going forward."
While not everyone in gaming is necessarily invested in Destiny, the news garnered reactions from several corners of the game industry.
Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox tweeted, “Looking forward to a very bright future working with one of my favorite independent studios on one of my favorite franchises. Excited to see how they continue to grow and evolve Destiny.”
Jason Schreier, news editor and investigative reporter for Kotaku tweeted, “This has been coming for *years*. Activision and Bungie have had a rocky relationship since before Destiny 1 even shipped. It's also incredible news for those of us who love Destiny and want to see it thrive.” Schreier said staff at Bungie were ecstatic. “Can't over-emphasize how happy they are not just to get away from Activision, but to have a game that they now own completely.”
Manveer Heir, a designer formerly of Bioware took the development as an opportunity to recall other studios that had less than amicable relationships with Activision. “I remember when I quit Raven Software after they canceled a game and put the studio on CoD support. Someone asked the COO “where is [Activision] going to make new IP from if all the studios are just helping call of duty” and his answer was “we have Bungie for that.”
Other reactions came from Nick Chester, head of public relations at Epic Games, Sergey Galyonkin, director of publishing strategy at Epic Games, and Rami Ismail, indie development consultant
But perhaps the most coy response came from the official Twitter account for Devolve Digital, the eclectic publisher of games like Hotline Miami and Absolver.
Development for post-launch content of Destiny 2 is expected to continue as previously announced, especially in order to satisfy the promise of the Annual Pass. The PC version will continue to use the Blizzard Battle.net launcher, and will "still receive full support on BattleNet and we do not anticipate any disruption to our services or your gameplay experience."
In addition to ongoing support for Destiny, Bungie is making new games. Last year, they received $100 million in funding from Chinese company NetEase for non-Destiny projects that have yet to be announced. Bungie insists that the Destiny franchise will "grow for many years to come,” and that their “commitment to that world is not diminished by this announcement."