Developer Bungie and publisher Activision are splitting up, an industry-shaking divorce that will see the shared world shooter series Destiny enter fully into Bungie’s control.
This development comes after years of tension between the two companies—tension that has existed since before the first Destiny even shipped. Bungie, the studio that created and has led development on the franchise, told employees during a team meeting this afternoon, framing it as fantastic news for a studio that has long grown sick of dealing with its publisher. Employees cheered and popped champagne, according to one person who was there.
“We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny,” Bungie said in a blog post today. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.”
Destiny, which first launched in September 2014, has had a long and rocky road through expansions, updates, and a sequel. The most recent major entry in the franchise, Destiny 2: Forsaken, was beloved by players but failed to meet Activision’s sales standards.
One of the most significant tensions between Bungie and Activision had long been the annualized schedule, which mandated the release of a new Destiny game or expansion every fall. Now, separated from Activision, Bungie will no longer be constrained to that schedule. “We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months,” the company said, “as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond.”
For now, it appears to be business as usual for Destiny 2. Activision said on Twitter this afternoon that the game would remain on Blizzard’s Battle.net, and Bungie says the transition is “already underway in its early stages.”
Bungie also has a brand new game in development thanks to a $100 million investment from NetEase.
The news comes during a rough time for Activision, which recently went through an executive shake-up and has been cutting costs at its biggest subsidiary, Blizzard. Activision’s stable of mega-franchises has grown significantly smaller, having abandoned Skylanders and now lost Destiny. Two of the publisher’s other studios, High Moon and Vicarious Visions, had been working on expansions and content for Destiny 2. It’s unclear what they will helm next.
It’s also full circle for Bungie, which created Halo for Microsoft, was then purchased by Microsoft, and negotiated its independence from Microsoft in 2007. At the meeting to announce that deal, employees cheered, too.