On monday, developer of Destiny 2, Bungie, had laid off an estimate of 8% of its staff. This news has been common throughout the industry as many heartbreaking stories of layoffs have taken place. However, as these layoffs happened a lot of news surrounding the scenario and some of its effect on Bungie and their current projects has made my blood boil. Many news outlets have shared information that turned what could have been shocking and unearned layoffs. Into truly infuriating practices that paint Bungie in a darker picture than I could have imagined.
In a lot of layoffs, employees are usually warned or told the day of or before then. This was not the case for the hundred employees that got laid off. Many had to learn from the fact they could not access company resources. Including their email as reported by Paul Tassi at Forbes:
The sudden nature of this act, coupled with the fact many of the team were not even given the courtesy of saying goodbye to others is shocking. But this is only one problem of these layoffs as Paul Tassi also reported:
Now the employee medical benefits only covering a single day was not true as Jason Schreier reported:
Employees who were let go will receive at least three months of severance and three months of Bungie-paid COBRA health insurance, although other benefits, such as expense reimbursements, ended Monday, sending some staff racing to submit their receipts. –Jason Schreier
This sounds well and normal, but the final bullet point that Paul reported on regarding shares is honestly terrible. Considering part of the Sony acquisition of Bungie was extra pay to retain talent. This extra pay took the form of shares that employees after a certain amount of time could sell or keep. This sounds great but if they were fired or quit before that specific time frame, those shares are gone. Meaning the massive payout a lot of the team was promised is fed back into Bungie the moment they got laid off.
I am aware that the people who lost their jobs are heartbroken over many different things. Such as not being around people they loved and being able to work on a game they worked tireless years on. Being able to take pride in what players and peers in the development community would see and feel inspired by. All of that time, talent, and effort into multiple titles, gone in one afternoon. But why did this all have to happen?
Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Say no Evil
It was also reported by Jason that following the universally hated Lightfall expansion many targets were being missed by Bungie. Revenue was projected to miss 45%, IGN reported that there were lower-than-expected numbers of pre-orders for The Final Shape expansion. Considering the state Destiny 2 found itself in, one cannot be shocked that players would drift away from it during this time. That being said, however, placing the blame on your employees is laughable when we learned developers at Bungie have been fighting to make changes to improve the state of the game.
Obviously, I have not played the game recently so I am not sure what can be changed, or what should be. But when developers are being ignored by their leadership to make changes to increase player retention. I cannot fathom the idea of placing the blame on your own staff when they want to improve the game and win players back. Potentially reaching the goals you’ve set for yourselves.
But the final slap in the face in this situation came pretty recently, from Bungie themselves. Where they said a lot of things in a public statement that has not gone over well, and how it’s presented is as cowardly and cold as they were to their employees.
A Word from the “Destiny 2 Development Team” at Bungie
Bungie released a statement called “Our Path Forward” and reads the following:
This is what officially broke me. No specific person or group of people putting their name on this is cold. You ignored your developers, cut them when it’s convenient for your financials. Despite them trying to get the numbers back up. The community and its content creators wanted to hear anything of value about losing such a substantial number of developers. Some of which are integral to the core experience. Such as Michael Salvatori who always made incredible music for Destiny.
Throwing out reminders of three of the admittedly best pieces of content the game has seen. One that has since been removed from the game is patronizing. Especially when these expansions cost nearly the price of a full game. It is frustrating to see Bungie release something they knew was bad. Then as the numbers dropped and so did the revenue, place the results on developers that have all been trying to make the game better. However, they have willingly ignored their cries to improve the title.
What happens if The Final Shape does not reach the pre-order numbers they want when they begin marketing it? Lightfall was also marketed heavily and had a good promise of quality too, after all. What happens if the revenue never increases due to that broken trust with your community? Will more of the development team get cut due to problems with Bungie’s ability to act on that player feedback?
Because they can keep throwing out carefully worded statements all they want. Until you stop “just listening” to feedback, this will only get worse, and the people at the very top will be the last to go or lose anything while everyone else does. I can only pray change internally takes place, so this does not happen again.