Following Bungie Inc.'s significant rounds of layoffs, reports from employees paint a grim picture of the studio's working environment. Read on to know more.
Morale Crisis Amid Layoffs and Leadership Concerns at Bungie
Employees Say It’s Them vs. Leadership
Bungie faces an employee morale crisis amid layoffs and financial challenges, as reported by IGN. The Destiny 2 and Marathon studio faced backlash after letting go of approximately 100 developers in late October.
Current employees reported a significant decline in morale due to the reduction of benefits, the scrapping of diversity and inclusion programs, and a perceived indifference or hostility from leadership, among other factors. Hostile management practices, coupled with hints of possible future layoffs, impaired trust between staff and leadership.
"Folks still there are very much feeling ‘us vs them’ between leadership and workers," one person told IGN. "That trust has been eroded."
Layoffs and Cost-Cutting Measures
The layoffs were attributed to various factors, including the underperformance of Destiny 2 and lower-than-expected preorders for the expansion, "The Final Shape," as stated by Bungie CEO Pete Parsons.
Cost-cutting measures included a hiring freeze, reduced travel budgets, the removal of holiday bonuses, the cessation of market-driven adjustments to employee compensation, and the end of employee donation matching.
Declining Player Interest in Destiny 2
Recent reports from Bloomberg indicated that Destiny 2 fell 45% below revenue projections for the year. Likewise, there were reports attributing the underperformance of the game to the studio's decision to implement in-game microtransactions.
The move fueled discontent among the player base, and interest in the game has reportedly been nosediving since. Developer and community feedback were also reportedly continuously shut down by management.
Sony Looks to Take Over Bungie
As of now, Bungie exists as a fully independent subsidiary of Sony. Key board members include head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst, Sony Senior VP Eric Lempel, Bungie co-founder Jason Jones, Bungie CTO Luis Villegas, and Bungie CEO Pete Parsons.
As claimed by IGN’s sources, Sony looks to dissolve Bungie's board and assume control if Bungie fails to meet financial targets.
Outsourcing Discussions and Lack of Transparency
Amid the layoffs, there were suspicions among employees about a broader move towards outsourcing. Employees claimed that discussions about increasing outsourcing had taken place both before and after the layoffs.
Internal discussions were allegedly clouded by leadership. Attempts to "obfuscate numbers and departments impacted" were reported by employees. Additionally, employees claimed they were discouraged from asking questions in company chats.
Toxic Work Culture and Ongoing Lawsuit
Reports of a pervasive and toxic work culture at Bungie date back to 2021, according to interviews with 26 current and former employees conducted by IGN. The issues included overt sexism, a "boys' club" culture, crunch, HR protection of abusers, microaggressions, systemic inequalities, and challenges in being heard.
A lawsuit filed against Bungie by a former HR manager, Ingrid Alm, accused the company of wrongful termination and retaliation. Alm claimed she was let go after raising concerns about potential racial discrimination.
The jury trial is set to take place on January 22, 2024, just one month before the release of Destiny 2's upcoming expansion, The Final Shape. (via HOCMarketing)
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