Bungie has split with Activision Blizzard eight years into a ten-year partnership. The separation sees Bungie assume "full publishing rights and responsibilities for the Destiny franchise", while Activision "will increase its focus on owned IP and other projects".
"When we first launched our partnership with Activision in 2010, the gaming industry was in a pretty different place," Bungie said in a statement on the official website. "As an independent studio setting out to build a brand new experience, we wanted a partner willing to take a big leap of faith with us. We had a vision for Destiny that we believed in, but to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner.
Thank you Guardians. It’s been an honor and a privilege to help bring the world of Destiny to life for you. pic.twitter.com/EB1y19OTD8
— Activision (@Activision) January 10, 2019
"We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny," the statement added. "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.
"The planned transition process is already underway in its early stages, with Bungie and Activision both committed to making sure the handoff is as seamless as possible."
As for Destiny 2‘s fate on Activision Blizzard’s proprietary PC platform Battle.net? "Destiny 2 will still receive full support on BattleNet and we do not anticipate any disruption to our services or your gameplay experience," Activision confirmed via tweet.
Destiny 2 will still receive full support on BattleNet and we do not anticipate any disruption to our services or your gameplay experience. https://t.co/FFOE1iae3R
— Blizzard CS – The Americas (@BlizzardCS) January 10, 2019
"Thank you Guardians. It’s been an honor and a privilege to help bring the world of Destiny to life for you."
In an earnings call last November, Activision COO Coddy Johnson explained that Activision’s MAU were "up sequentially from Q2" thanks to the good performance of Destiny 2’s expansion Forsaken, launched on September 4th. However, Forsaken actually performed below the firm’s expectations. Johnson added: "Now while Forsaken is a high-quality expansion with strong engagement and new modes of play, it did not achieve our commercial expectations, and there’s still work to do to fully re-engage the core Destiny fan base."
The then-CFO Spencer Neumann further revealed that Activision’s Q3 revenue reached $397m (£305m), with the "key contributors [being] Call of Duty digital in-game revenue and Destiny 2: Forsaken, although the latter underperformed [their] expectations".
Destiny 2 director, Luke Smith then responded to reports that its latest expansion, Forsaken, "did not achieve [Activision’s] commercial expectations", stating that the development team at Bungie is "not disappointed" in the latest instalment.
"We are not disappointed with Forsaken," Smith asserted via a tweet. "We set out to build a game that Destiny players would love, and at Bungie, we love it too. Building Destiny for players who love it is and will remain our focus going forward."
Bungie has long been something of a single-franchise developer, and you have to go back eighteen years to find a point where the company was developing and releasing games set in more than one universe at a time. It’ll be interesting to see what the Destiny and Halo developer does next, particularly given it recently agreed to "begin the creation of new worlds" as part of its recent deal with Netease.
"We know self-publishing won’t be easy; there’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny," concluded Bungie’s statement. "We know that new adventures await us all on new worlds filled with mystery, adventure, and hope. We hope you’ll join us there."