A shockwave hit the gaming industry this week, as the studio behind Destiny and Destiny 2 announced the franchise would no longer be published by Activision - and would be self-published by Bungie instead. The Seattle-based team will now self-publish all expansions to the ongoing Destiny 2 and any future sequels.
The announcement comes via a blog post on Bungie's website, alongside a joint statement from the two companies.
Bungie seems confident about the move, sharing that it is "excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie", a move which is said to be well under way. "Activision and Bungie are committed to a seamless transition for the Destiny franchise and will continue to work closely together during the transition on behalf of the community of Destiny players around the world".
Destiny was a worthwhile attempt by Activision to build another cornerstone franchise, one that just didn't quite pan out as they had hoped (underlining once again the high difficulty of creating and managing a successful live service game business), in our view.
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Best known for its development of the Marathon first-person shooter franchise and its spiritual successor Halo, Bungie Software was acquired by Microsoft back in 2000 - a deal which turned what was to be a cross-platform title, the original Halo, into an exclusive for Microsoft's at-the-time shiny new Xbox console. The popular opinion is that Activision's oversight on Destiny 2 caused most of its major issues, hence its unpopularity with the community.
All eyes will be on Activision Blizzard Inc to see if they can manage a profit this year with less IP than before. It's believed that their input is what has caused Destiny problems since the second game was released: single-use shaders, rushed and uninspired expansions, dodgy XP earnings, and the feeling that it was a game too beholden to shareholders at the expense of its fans - the statement from Activision about waiting for the "full core to re-engage" with the game felt alien and cynical. However, publisher and developer are now parting ways. Bungie left Microsoft in 2007 to find more creative freedom and then promptly hopped into bed with Activision, which was a surprise to say the least.
What will be interesting to watch is how Bungie approaches publishing going forward. This will include more seasonal experiences in the upcoming months. Bungie and its Destiny IP were seen as one of the crown jewels of Activision Blizzard, even despite some recent missed sales targets.