A new report from IGN has alleged Destiny developer Bungie is at risk of losing its independence, should the financial performance of upcoming projects not meet projected goals. According to sources speaking to IGN, the studio is allegedly facing a number of cuts, including to employee programs and benefits, as leadership “scrambles” to avoid the possibility of a complete takeover by parent company, Sony.
It’s alleged that the current Bungie board, which features two representatives from Sony and three from Bungie, may be overhauled entirely in the future, dependent on the success of upcoming Bungie games such as Destiny 2: The Final Shape and Marathon. As IGN notes, Bungie previously prided itself on being an independent company with the scope and freedom to work on its chosen projects.
That may be in jeopardy, following a difficult year for the studio, which has already seen 100 employees cut in sweeping layoffs. According to IGN’s sources, these cost-cutting measures have continued at Bungie, with other measures allegedly including hiring freezes, reduced travel budgets, removal of holiday bonuses, employee hobby programs being scrapped, yearly studio performance bonuses being reduced, and annual employee compensation adjustments being stopped entirely.
Sources speaking to IGN believe this has contributed to a drop in morale, and a mood in the studio described as “soul-crushing.” Many reportedly believe that more layoffs could be coming in future, and that there is now added pressure on the Final Shape team to deliver a blockbuster expansion pack.
“We know we need Final Shape to do well,” a source allegedly told IGN. “The feeling at the studio is that if it doesn’t, we’re definitely looking at more layoffs.”
Another claimed studio management isn’t listening to Bungie’s community, or acknowledging that laying off some of the most recognisable and widely appreciated Bungie staff members has had an impact on Destiny player and developer sentiment.
“It feels like many higher ups aren’t listening to the data and are like, ‘We just need to win our fans back, they still like us.’ No. They don’t… We got rid of some of our most knowledgeable beloved folks who have been here for 20+ years. Everyday I walk in afraid that I or my friends are next. No one is safe.”
IGN‘s report further alleges that changes to the studio, including the outsourcing and undervaluing of QA staff, has led to a feeling of pessimism at Bungie, with the looming shadow of a potential takeover adding pressure. Allegedly, there is a long road ahead for developers working on Bungie’s biggest upcoming projects. You can read the full report on IGN.