In an internal town hall meeting addressing a Monday round of layoffs that impacted multiple departments, Bungie CEO Pete Parsons allegedly told remaining employees that the company had kept “the right people” to continue work on Destiny 2.
Speaking to multiple current and recently laid off employees, IGN has confirmed reports that Bungie took responsibility for the layoffs, rather than laying them at the feet of parent company Sony. Parsons told employees that the layoffs were largely due to underperformance of Destiny 2 over the last year, as well as lower-than-expected preorders for upcoming expansion The Final Shape.
IGN can now independently confirm reports that The Final Shape has been delayed to June 2024, and Marathon has been internally delayed to 2025 after having been in development since 2019.
Employees were also told that Destiny 2 player sentiment was at an all-time low. Sources tell IGN that this issue had been flagged to leadership repeatedly for months prior to the layoffs, with employees begging for necessary changes to win players back.
One former Bungie employee recalled that they were repeatedly assured following the 2022 Sony acquisition of Bungie that there would be no layoffs, and cited an item from a Sony quarterly report that claimed $1.2 billion of the $4 billion acquisition was going explicitly toward staff retention. Multiple employees confirmed that money was distributed to employees who were fully vested, with money split into multiple payments over time and varying based on discipline and seniority.
Other employees also told IGN they felt especially frustrated with the layoffs given that the company had completed work on a brand new headquarters, more than double the size of its previous office and likely a pricey 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 similarly angered several employees we spoke to.
Today is a sad day at Bungie as we say goodbye to colleagues who have all made a significant impact on our studio. What these exceptional individuals have contributed to our games and Bungie culture has been enormous and will continue to be a part of Bungie long into the future.
— pete parsons (@pparsons) October 30, 2023
The exact number of those impacted is still nebulous, though some sources we spoke to suggested roughly around 100 employees, a number also reported by Bloomberg earlier today. Multiple employees claimed that internally, Bungie leadership has tried to obfuscate the numbers and departments of those impacted while discouraging employees from asking questions on these topics in company chats.
IGN has now heard of layoffs impacting the community team, art, engineering, recruiting, legal, audio, QA, creative studios, and IT, with impacts across both the Destiny 2 and Marathon teams, and including multiple members of the company’s diversity committee and accessibility club. Those impacted are receiving a minimum of three months of severance and COBRA health benefits, though other company benefits terminated immediately.
Multiple employees expressed frustration about the layoffs, saying they felt that the decisions leading to the company’s apparent money struggles were out of their hands, and that those who were laid off were being punished for a problem they largely did not cause.
“It’s definitely weird, being the one who is laid off based off the decisions and performances of people in departments you’re not involved with,” one impacted employee told IGN. “Being deemed expendable hurts.”
Additionally, IGN has been told that a noticeable number of employees had been dismissed from the QA team in the weeks and months leading up to yesterday’s layoffs. While the exact number is unknown, the number of departures over time were notable enough that the company’s head of QA sent an email around to staff members addressing the situation. IGN has reviewed the email, which claimed the dismissals “were not layoffs and not a result of cost cutting in any way,” adding that “if we ever did layoffs, we would be very upfront about it.”
Employees familiar with the situation told IGN that the dismissals came alongside what felt like a growing “crackdown” on QA, with increased job responsibilities and multiple people being placed on performance improvement plans (PIPs) for seemingly minor infractions.
In 2021, IGN spoke to 26 current and former employees at Bungie about a pervasive, toxic work culture at the Destiny 2 developer that at the time seemed to slowly be improving thanks to the ongoing efforts of employees at the ground level. However, earlier this month we also reported on an ongoing lawsuit filed against Bungie by a former HR manager, who claims she was wrongfully terminated for reporting potential racial bias in the company.
IGN has reached out to Bungie for comment.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Author: Rebekah Valentine