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Former Bungie boss says deal with Activision "not a marriage made in heaven at all"

"We knew it was a risk right from the get go, and it turned out to be exactly as bad as we thought it to be," says Marty O'Donnell

Bungie co-founder and former exec Marty O'Donnell has suggested the developer's partnership with Activision was "bad from the start."

In an interview on the HiddenXperia YouTube channel, O'Donnell offered some insight into the deal between Bungie and Activision.

"Because I was in leadership and on the board of directors when we went with Activision, if there is any blame for going to Activision, I am part of it," he said.

"There were seven of us total I think... and made that deal with Activision. We knew it was a risk right from the get go, and it turned out to be exactly as bad as we thought it to be.

"I am the only one who is gonna say that, except anyone who no longer works for Bungie, and anyone who no longer works for Bungie is gonna say, 'yeah, it was bad from the start.'"

Bungie signed a multi-year publishing deal with Activision in 2010 after parting ways with Microsoft, and leaving the Halo IP behind.

However, after around nine years and two games, Bungie and Activision announced the partnership would be dissolved.

Speaking with Eurogamer several months after the split, Bungie communications director David Dague said: "I think we need to dispel the notion Activision was some prohibitive overlord that wasn't letting us do awesome things.

"We launched this franchise with Activision, naturally and over the course of time we both decided we had different goals for what we wanted it to be, so we both went our separate ways."

No further details were provided on why Bungie and Activision went their separate ways, but O'Donnell says the official line of an amicable split after many years of "wonderful" cooperation is nowhere near the full truth.

"That was not a marriage made in heaven at all," he added.

O'Donnell said his gut instinct from the start was that "we shouldn't do this," but Activision promised that Bungie would maintain complete control over its IP -- a right the developer was not afforded with Halo.

"I kept saying we need to be able to own and control the IP," he said. "And Activision agreed to that, and all of 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."

O'Donnell was fired from Bungie "without cause" in 2014, after claiming Activision was interfering with the creative process for Destiny. In 2015, he won a legal case against Bungie after it forced him to give up his shares and any future profit entitlement, a move which was ruled as illegal.

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Ivy Taylor avatar
Ivy Taylor: Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.
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