Addressing in an internal citizens’ meeting a round of layoffs on Monday Bungie CEO Pete Parsons reportedly told remaining employees that the company had retained “the right people” to continue work on Destiny 2.
IGN spoke to several current and recently laid-off employees confirmed reports that Bungie took responsibility for the layoffs rather than blaming it on parent company Sony. Parsons told employees that the layoffs were largely due to Destiny 2’s poor performance last year, as well as lower-than-expected pre-orders for its upcoming expansion, The Final Shape.
IGN can now independently confirm reports that The Final Shape has been pushed back to June 2024 and Marathon has been pushed internally to 2025 after being in development since 2019.
Employees were also told that Destiny 2 player sentiment was at an all-time low. Sources tell IGN that leadership had been repeatedly made aware of the issue for months before the layoffs, and staff had been begging for necessary changes to bring players back.
A former Bungie employee recalled that they were repeatedly assured afterwards 2022 Sony acquires Bungie that there would be no layoffs, citing a point from a Sony quarterly report that claimed $1.2 billion of the $4 billion acquisition was explicitly aimed at employee retention. Several employees confirmed that the money was paid out to employees who had full vesting, with the money split into multiple payments over time and varying based on discipline and seniority.
Other employees also told IGN they were particularly frustrated by the layoffs because the company has completed work on a brand new headquarters that is more than twice the size of the previous office and likely a costly upgrade in Bellevue, Washington. [Note: The archived Bungie blog article was available this morning when we first drafted this piece, but as of 3:00pm PT today appeared to have been taken down. Update 3:43pm: It’s back online.]
Parsons was criticized in some quarters for calling the layoffs a “sad day at Bungie” in a tweet, which also angered several employees we spoke with.
Today is a sad day at Bungie as we say goodbye to colleagues who have all had a huge impact on our studio. The contribution of these extraordinary individuals to our games and Bungie culture has been enormous and will continue to be a part of Bungie well into the future.
– Pete Parsons (@pparsons) October 30, 2023
The exact number of those affected is still unclear, although some sources we spoke to suggest around 100 employees, a fair number of them Bloomberg reported earlier today. Multiple employees alleged that Bungie leadership tried internally to obscure the numbers and departments affected while discouraging employees from asking questions about these topics in company chats.
IGN has now heard of layoffs affecting the community team, art, engineering, recruiting, legal, audio, quality assurance, creative studios and IT, impacting both the Destiny 2 and Marathon teams and several members of the company’s diversity committee concern the accessibility club. Those affected will receive at least three months of severance pay and COBRA health benefits, but other company benefits will cease immediately.
Several employees expressed frustration over the layoffs, saying they felt the decisions that led to the company’s apparent money problems were out of their hands and that those fired were being punished for a problem they largely did not cause .
“It’s definitely strange to be the one who gets fired based on the decisions and performance of people in departments you have nothing to do with,” one affected employee told IGN. “It hurts to be seen as expendable.”
Additionally, IGN was told that a significant number of employees had been let go from the QA team in the weeks and months leading up to yesterday’s layoffs. Although the exact number is not known, the number of departures over time was so notable that the company’s head of quality assurance sent an email to employees addressing the situation. IGN reviewed the email, which claimed the layoffs were “not layoffs and were in no way the result of cost cutting,” adding: “If we were ever to make layoffs, we would be very open about it.”
Employees familiar with the situation told IGN that the layoffs were accompanied by what appeared to be a growing “crackdown” on quality assurance, with increased job responsibilities and the placement of multiple people on performance improvement plans (PIPs) for seemingly minor violations.
In 2021 IGN spoke to 26 current and former employees at Bungie about a pervasive, toxic work culture at the Destiny 2 developer, which at the time seemed to be slowly improving thanks to the continued efforts of local employees. However, earlier this month We also reported on an ongoing lawsuit against Bungie by a former human resources manager who claims she was wrongfully terminated for reporting potential racial bias at the company.
IGN has reached out to Bungie for comment.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Do you have a story tip? Send it to email@example.com.