Destiny's original composer on Bungie and Activision relationship: "Exactly as bad as we thought it would be"

(Image credit: Bungie)

Former Bungie audio lead Marty O'Donnell has not held back in his assessment of his ex-studio and Activision's working relationship over Destiny in a new interview, saying "we knew it was a risk right from the get-go and then it turned out to be exactly as bad as we thought it would be." 

Speaking to HiddenXperia, a Halo YouTuber, in a wide-ranging chat, the question "What were your thoughts when you heard Bungie were leaving Activision?" was put to O'Donnell.

You can watch the full interview down below, but as a note, the video will start on the Bungie and Activision question. 

O'Donnell kicks off his answer by stating: "Part of me was 'well it's about time,' the other part of me was 'gee I hope they get bought so then I'll get bought out on my stock.'" 

Clearly there's no love lost between O'Donnell and Activision. He later expanded on how the companies came together in the first place. "Because I was in leadership and I was on the board of directors when we went with Activision, if there's any blame for going to Activision I'm part of… We knew it was a risk right from the get-go and then it turned out to be exactly as we thought it would be." 

He provides a bit of context for why Bungie went with Activision, saying it was down to the fact that Activision would allow Bungie to retain the rights to the Destiny IP, before revealing Bungie were considering heading back to Microsoft. He said: "Personally I just kept saying we need to be able to own and control the IP and Activision agreed to that. All the other big players during that period would not agree to do that including Microsoft, who was very close to making a serious [offer]. We almost went back to Microsoft if you can believe it."

After dropping that revelation, O'Donnell moves onto what he says is "the spicy part". He claims that part of the deal with Bungie meant Activision couldn't mess with the IP, but that "the only way they would be prevented from messing with the IP is if all the leadership at Bungie said 'you can't mess with the IP,' and that's not what happened." 

While O'Donnell doesn't name names, he goes on to say that: "That was probably my biggest disappointment, we worked for a decade to make sure we could be in a position where we could stand up to the publisher saying 'no, we own the IP you can't mess with it' and I was overruled and then eventually let go." 

O'Donnell's time at Bungie came to an acrimonious end after he was fired from Bungie during the original game's development. O'Donnell successfully won a legal battle against Bungie for unlawful dismissal, which is why he retains stocks in the company. Still, it's fascinating to hear O'Donnell's account of events from this time, especially the revelation that Destiny could have gone back to Microsoft. 

Bungie recently announced the Seasons of Arrivals  for Destiny 2, which will be the future of the series. 

Ben Tyrer

Hello, I'm GamesRadar's News Editor. I've been working in the games industry since 2013, after graduating from Bournemouth University with a degree in multimedia journalism. Since then I've worked for Official PlayStation Magazine as a staff writer and games editor, as well as writing for Official Xbox Magazine, Edge, PC Gamer, GamesMaster, PC Games N, and more. When I'm not moaning about being beaten on FIFA and Warzone, I'm writing news, features, and reviews for this wonderful site.