The famous game developer Bungie has been facing massive lows for the past few months. From backlash on social media to major internal organizational changes and delays in releasing some of the biggest titles.
Although the company has witnessed some breather too with the success of Destiny 2‘s latest Season of the Wish, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Bungi has had the most eventful past few months.
It all started when the company suddenly decided to lay off a major chunk of its workforce. It reportedly let go of about 8% of its employees from all departments including some of the veteran employees who had been with them for over decades. This included Micheal Salvatori the music composer of Destiny 2.
Later the developer was sued by an ex-HR for racial bias practiced in the company. Amidst all this, the developers delayed the launch of Destiny 2’s last season, The Final Shape. The season which was supposed to launch in February 2024, has now been postponed to June 2024, possibly due to the layoffs.
Reason for Bungie layoffs
The layoffs were publically announced by the CEO of Bungie, Pete Parsons, on his X (formerly Twitter) handle. “Today is a sad day at Bungie as we say goodbye to colleagues who have all made a significant impact on our studio. What these exceptional individuals have contributed to our games and Bungie culture has been enormous and will continue to be a part of Bungie long into the future,” he wrote.
Today is a sad day at Bungie as we say goodbye to colleagues who have all made a significant impact on our studio. What these exceptional individuals have contributed to our games and Bungie culture has been enormous and will continue to be a part of Bungie long into the future.
— pete parsons (@pparsons) October 30, 2023
Although the news of layoffs was announced, the reason for the layoffs was kept under wraps. However, if a recent report from IGN is to be believed the reason may be revealed. Bungie reportedly let go of about 100 employees of 1,200. The employees who remained suggest that the layoff as well as the other cost-cutting measures is the decision of the studio’s leadership to avoid a total Sony takeover.
Thus, according to Parsons, the decision to lay off was taken by Bungie leadership and not Sony as a cost-cutting measure.
Interestingly, there are other cost-cutting techniques that Bungie has adopted apart from the layoffs. Several current employees reportedly confirmed that Bungie has adopted measures including a hiring freeze throughout the studio, decreased travel budgets, getting rid of holiday bonuses, keeping its annual Bungie Day virtual, shelving its weeklong company “Pentathlon” event to next December, and reducing numerous morale events such as cooking and knitting classes to quarterly which were previously monthly.
The studio has also halted or fully ceased benefits such as annual employee compensation changes to meet market rates, the new hire lunch program, employee donation matching, peer recognition program, as well as gift cards for employees’ birthdays. Besides this year the yearly studio performance bonuses will only be the contractually obligated 80% minimum, which was formerly above 100% for good performance for several previous years.
Is Bungie facing a hostile takeover from Sony?
Although Sony took over Bunge back in July 2022, Bungie is still a fully independent subsidiary of Sony on paper. However, its board of directors including PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst, Sony senior VP Eric Lempel, Bungie co-founder Jason Jones, Bungie CTO Luis Villegas, and Bungie CEO Pete Parsons are divided.
The board members are split with equal representation of Sony and Bungie, with Parsons acting as a tiebreaker vote. The report reveals that multiple current and former Bungie employees were indirectly hinted that the shared power may not last forever.
Although the accurate details of Sony’s acquisition of Bungie deal are unknown to the public and employees, some employees stated that they were told by leaders that the current stance of the split board is contingent on Bungie meeting specific financial goals. In case Bungie fails to meet its financial goals by great margins, Sony holds the power to dissolve the existing board and take full control of the company.
Amidst such pressure and The Final Shape delayed to the next fiscal year, Bungie leadership had to make a call. Bungie’s leadership wants to maintain the studio’s independent status and is thus trying its best to meet the financial goals to avoid Sony’s takeover.