Games

Chronicle: Bungie and Destiny with Activision

Analysis of eight years with the publisher.

January 11, Bungie announced the early termination of a multi-year contract with Activision. The studio will retain Destiny’s publishing rights, and the separation process itself will be gradual.

Eight years of cooperation between the two companies did not go smoothly. Despite the overall commercial success of the franchise – both parts of Destiny sold out in more than 50 million copies – Bungie stumbled over and over, leaving both players and Activision in anger. Let’s try to figure out what led to the sudden separation.

Create original Destiny

In October 2007, Bungie announced that it had finally become independent from Microsoft – almost seven years after joining the publisher. There was an obligation for the studio to release two more Halo parts, but after that, the famous series of games could have a rest.

One fine day at the end of 2007, Bungie studio staff sat in a rented cinema opposite their office and applauded vigorously. They have just defended their independence. After seven years of work at Microsoft, the studio was finally free.Jason schreierfrom the book Blood, Sweat and Pixels

Later, the preproduction of their new game began. From 2007 to 2010, she wore the code name Project Tiger. Against the background of the production of Halo: Reach, Destiny’s development went slowly – the creation was limited to developments and concepts.

Finally, in 2010, Bungie went to seek financial support from outside. The studio visited Sony, Microsoft, EA, and even Nintendo, until it had a ten-year contract with Activision, which involved investing $ 500 million to develop several games. It was the biggest deal in the history of the industry.

For Bungie, the rights to the Destiny franchise and creative freedom remained. The only thing that limited it was a strict schedule for the release of games. The first part was to be released in the fall of 2013 (as a result, it was moved to September 2014), the addition – in a year, the second part – in a year, and so on.

Naturally, deadlines immediately began to “burn.” In the summer of 2013, Joe Staten, the main screenwriter of the game, presented the team with a general “threading” of the plot, consisting of in-game clips with incomplete dialogues, underwritten clips and draft animation. In Bungie, she, to put it mildly, was unhappy.

I think in Joe’s head, it all looked more connected. And he probably thought: “Hey, guys, we’re here in the same boat. We need to move in one direction. This is our starting point. It is not ideal, but it can be fixed … “

But it turned out quite the opposite. Almost everyone in the studio decided: “Lord, this is a complete failure.”Marty O’Donnellformer composer bungie

Jason Jones, co-founder of Bungie, then decided that the script was no good, and offered to redo it from scratch, although there was only a year left before the release. Staten resisted, believing that this would entail the inevitable deadlines – which the studio could not allow at all, given the strained relations with Activision because of the transfer that had already happened. But the leadership supported Jones, and Staten left Bungie.

As a result, one of the main claims of the players to Destiny was precisely the absence of a sane story. ENT was revealed mainly through in-game recordings, most of which were written by an old team of scriptwriters. The players almost immediately noticed that the plot was made of patches – in Destiny there were not only some separate cues, but entire scenes and characters that had previously been shown in trailers and demos.


Trailer from E3 2013

Activision promised a bonus of $ 2.5 million if the average game score among critics was 90 or higher. Given the past releases of Bungie, many employees even believed in success – despite all the difficulties.

But the average score was 77 points out of 100 among journalists and 6.1 out of 10 among players. In addition to the plot, the content was also criticized, it was simply too little in the game, especially the endgame activities. However, this did not prevent Destiny from attracting a huge audience and a true fan base.

The situation with the content should be corrected additions. However, players did not leave the feeling that the first DLC called The Dark Below was cut out of the finished game – locations from it and other additions were found in Destiny a month after its release.

The fact that the developers, after the release of the DLC, blocked the access of the owner of the “vanilla” version to the part of the endgame – the Nightfall mode and the playlist of raids, added fuel to the fire . In the weekly trials included the content of The Dark Below, and access to them in some of the players simply blocked.

While the first two DLCs, The Dark Below and House of Wolves, the players met coolly, and The Taken King add-on finally hit the spot – Metacritic has 86 points out of 100. It finally has a convincing the script, which was written to write Clay Carmusha from the former team of writers.

But here the players found a catch. The location from the Dreadnought add-on as well as the raid boss could be seen back in the trailer of the original Destiny for 2013.

The Taken King was released in September 2015, and the contract obliged Bungie to release a full second part as early as next fall. Studio again persuaded Activision to allocate more time to it and shifted the release of the sequel for a year, offering another replacement for the first part – Rise of Iron.

The life of the sequel

The existence of Destiny 2 Bungie announced back in November 2014. But, according to Jason Schreier’s investigation , the development was “seriously restarted” for reasons unknown so far in the spring of 2016, so the sequel was made in less than a year and a half.

The game director was appointed Luke Smith (head of the development of the addition to the first Destiny, The Taken King – ) , who still holds this post. But before him in this position was someone else. He was fired, this man no longer works in Bungie.Jason schreierKotaku editor

Bungie planned to release DLC with the same frequency as the first part, but did not calculate the force. To compensate for the lack of revenue, the studio offered Activision to introduce the Eververse in-game store, which offered to purchase cosmetic items for micropayments, into the game. Despite the protests of players in Destiny 2, it still exists today.


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