And here I was thinking the biggest Destiny news of the week would be that players couldn’t solve the game’s hardest puzzle after several days. But something much, much larger is afoot. After a bit of whispering late this afternoon that something big was about to happen, Bungie has announced that it will take over the full publishing rights of the Destiny franchise from Activision going forward.
Destiny was originally launched as a joint venture between Activision and Bungie right after the studio left Microsoft and Halo behind. But reportedly there has been a good amount of tension between the two as Activision is forever in search of higher profits while Bungie is more focused on the product itself and making sure it’s working for fans, goals that have often proven to be at odds.
The exact nature of what Activision’s “demands” of Bungie and Destiny have been over the years is still nebulous, but it likely required the kind of regimented scheduling we see where there *must* be a new substantive Destiny release every fall, whether one is ready or not, and a sequel must arrive in a certain window, and both of these have led to content that sometimes feels rushed, like nearly the entirety of vanilla Destiny 2, for instance.
Activision is also blamed for the game’s constant struggles with post-launch monetization as the Eververse store has gone through a billion iterations at this point, at its worst overcrowding content with its loot boxes, at its best being able to be more or less ignored completely.
As for what changes, that remains to be seen. This handover does not necessarily mean scheduling will change or the Eververse will be nuked from orbit, but it’s hard to see this as anything but good news, which is how the vast majority of fans will receive it. Bungie has made plenty of mistakes that likely had nothing to do with Activision’s influence to be sure, but without the megacorp breathing down their neck, the thought is that the game will have room to breathe and grow the way Bungie and fans want. To say Bungie is excited about this is an understatement, as according to Jason Schreier, employees were cheering and popping champagne when the news was announced.
Bungie does not have many specifics to reveal about the future, but this has been in the works for a while, and they’re certainly painting it as good news, even if they’re restraining themselves from dancing on the grave of the old deal. They thank Activision for their help and support over the last eight years, but are now turned toward the future:
“With Forsaken, we’ve learned, and listened, and leaned in to what we believe our players want from a great Destiny experience. Rest assured there is more of that on the way. We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months, as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond.”
As for what’s happening immediately, Bungie has shared that nothing that’s been shared in the D2 year 2 roadmap will be altered as a result of this deal, which includes two more annual pass releases. And after that, well, we assumed there was going to be a big fall expansion, but who knows now, if this move ends up freeing them from that obligation. But even if Bungie is stepping out on their own, it still is very much the case that things like holiday release windows and microtransactions will remain important to them, though perhaps now they’ll have a bit more freedom to experiment with that kind of stuff than just have to follow orders to insert loot boxes into the game or what have you. The annual pass itself seems like that kind of experiment, for instance.
Bungie has grown up a lot since Destiny debuted, and I think the studio is ready for this. In addition to continuing to build and grow Destiny, Bungie is reportedly going to develop other new IPs too, and it feels like they could grow into a true industry powerhouse in their own right, even if they no longer have the patronage of the world’s biggest gaming company.
I definitely can’t predict smooth sailing from here on out, as who really knows what happens next, but it does feel like congratulations are in order for Bungie, “graduating” from Activision like this, and also the Destiny community for embracing the game to the point where this is now possible.
I’m looking forward to what comes next.