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Activision will cut ties with Bungie, give up publishing control of Destiny

Activision will cut ties with Bungie, give up publishing control of Destiny
Aurich / Bungie

The publishing deal that brought Halo‘s creators together with the publisher of Call of Duty has ended—two full years before it was originally slated to end.

Seattle-area game developer Bungie will soon become the sole publisher and handler of the Destiny online-shooter series that it developed in partnership with publisher Activision. Bungie announced the news on Thursday via a blog post titled “Our destiny,” in which the studio declared that plans were already in motion “for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny.” The post begins with a specific framing: that during the game’s plotting phase in 2010, in order “to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner.”

Bungie’s post thus implies—but doesn’t outright state—that the developer no longer needs said support. More crucially, it does not make clear what exactly will unfold as a result of the 10-year deal signed in 2010 by the developer and publisher—meaning, whether either party owes the other anything for an early termination.

Both Destiny games (Destiny 1, which launched in 2014, and Destiny 2, from 2017) have had similar trajectories: early praise and promise tumbling in the face of criticism about each title’s “endgame” content. That means that, once the primary quests in either game were complete, players were left with little to do—and sometimes some aggressive microtransaction issues to juggle. (D2‘s latest expansion pack, Forsaken, did quite a bit to correct the sequel’s biggest wrongs.)

Activision’s work on the Destiny franchise was not just limited to its massive influence as a publisher and investor. Independent studio Vicarious Visions was heavily involved in the development of Destiny 2‘s PC version, but that studio has largely focused on Activision-published fare over the past decade-plus, with its portfolio dominated by a majority of the publisher’s Guitar Hero and Skylanders games. Today’s news doesn’t confirm whether VV’s partnership with Bungie will continue post-Activision.

There’s also the matter of D2‘s PC version launching on the Blizzard PC game launcher, itself a member of the Activision family. Today’s announcement did not answer whether that PC distribution model will remain intact, but Blizzard’s customer service division has indicated that, for now, “Destiny 2 will still receive full support on BattleNet, and we do not anticipate any disruption to our services or your gameplay experience.” Really, the announcement is scant on details beyond confirming that “the planned transition process is already underway in its early stages, with Bungie and Activision both committed to making sure the handoff is as seamless as possible.”

“We know self-publishing won’t be easy; there’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny,” the blog post concludes.

ARS T

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