After months of rumblings about Activision being unhappy with the way Destiny 2 has been performing, the company has finally announced that their partnership, after nearly 10 years, is coming to an end.
Perhaps the most important fact to single out here, though, is that it will be Bungie who’s keeping the Destiny IP, not Activision. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the original 2010 contract stipulated that when the partnership ended, it would be Bungie keeping the property - though Activision would get the first pass on the option to publish more.
But why has the partnership ended so abruptly? Well, the problem seems to have been the sales of Destiny 2. Back in November Activision singled out Bungie’s title as being one of their products that performed under expectations. Though the game still sold well, the disappointment probably had more to do with the active playerbase, which was allegedly dropping off quicker than the first title - even after it was offered out for free on services like PS Plus. If there’s less players around, then there’s fewer people buying microtransactions and DLCs like the recent Foresaken expansion - and as we’ve covered in previous videos, Activision more than any other publisher thrives off these in-game purchases.
Also, it’s important to note that, “bad” sales or not, the contract between the pair was up next year anyway. The original ten-year deal was signed back in 2010, and while there was a stipulation that Bungie were to ship 4 Destiny titles alongside four major expansions in that time, something which they obviously haven’t achieved, Activision seem done with trying to make this one of their core franchises.
Despite the drama though, this is ultimately a good thing for the franchise and for Bungie. As per Kotaku’s report, the team apparently were popping champagne and cheering when they were given the news - which is almost the exact same reaction they had when they split from Microsoft a decade ago. Apparently there have been tensions between the two companies since day one, with neither side being fully happy with the arrangement or the products. Bungie clearly see this as a win, and now they’ll have way more freedom as to how they develop their games, and what kind of business model they can adopt.
There is a darker side to the fallout though. While Bungie were the main developers on Destiny and created the IP, they’ve been receiving help on the project since the beginning from both High Moon Studios and Vicarious Visions, two stellar Activision-owned teams. While these two departments used to create their own games, they’ve mostly been working as support for this franchise. So, with Activision as a whole making cuts across the board, and now with no active major project for them to help with, what becomes of these studios?
Bungie's future, on the other hand, looks far brighter. The team seems committed to continuing Destiny and making it better than ever, but there’s also the $100m deal they signed with NetEase last year to produce an original IP - of which se still know nothing about. Whatever comes first though, and whatever Bungie decide to work on next, there’s more options on the table than there was a day ago.