In an interview with Youtuber HiddenXperia, composer and former Bungie executive Marty O’Donnell spoke candidly about the failed partnership between Destiny developer Bungie and publisher Activision.
“We knew it was a risk right from the get-go, and then it turned out to be exactly as we thought it was going to be,” O’Donnell says. “Everybody who no longer works for Bungie is gonna say, ‘Yeah, it was bad from the start.'”
O’Donnell goes on to imply that those who still work for Bungie are often being “political” when they speak about the Bungie/Activision partnership and even says that “There are so many scripted answers out there that I hear.”
O’Donnell certainly doesn’t seem to be working off a script as he passionately talks about how the Activision/Bungie partnership fell apart across the course of Destiny and Destiny 2‘s development. He says that the reason Bungie decided to side with Activision as a publishing partner in the first place wasn’t just due to the money that Activision was offering (which was certainly a factor) but because Activision promised Bungie they could retain the IP rights to Destiny as part of the deal.
While that obviously technically turned out to be true as Bungie continues to develop content for Destiny 2 even though Activision is no longer their publishing partner, O’Donnell says that the arrangement wasn’t quite that simple. He alleges that Activision executives tried to interfere early on with the franchise’s creative process and top members of the Bungie team didn’t fight enough to fend them off. O’Donnell even insinuates that his disagreement with the rest of the Bugie team over this matter is the main reason he was fired.
Interestingly, O’Donnell also notes that Bungie considering going back to Microsoft as a potential publishing partner for Destiny because they were having so much trouble finding a publisher that would allow them to retain the Destiny IP.
We suppose that you could argue O’Donnell has an ax to grind in regards to his history with Bungie and Activision, but the truth is that he’s not saying anything about the Activision/Bungie relationship that hasn’t been previously said or strongly implied. It essentially sounds like Activision treated Bungie like a content factory and another part of their considerable corporate machine whereas many at Bungie wanted to be treated more like a partner who brought their own creative vision to the table
Based on what we’ve seen of Destiny so far in the post-Activision era, we’d say that the split was probably for the best in terms of the quality of future Destiny 2 updates and other entries into the franchise.