Report: Embattled Bungie management insist fans ‘still like us’ in the face of plummeting staff morale

A new report from IGN says the situation at Bungie following layoffs and reports of sinking Destiny 2 player numbers and revenues is even more dire than is widely known. Morale at the studio has reportedly plummeted amidst what is described by IGN’s sources as management indifference, and the report says Bungie could even be subject to a full Sony takeover if the upcoming Destiny 2 expansion The Final Shape fails to meet expectations.

The layoff of roughly 100 Bungie employees in October triggered outrage among Destiny 2’s players, who were particularly angry to see veteran employees including composers Michael Salvatori and Michael Sechrist, and well-known social media reps, put out of work. The situation was made worse by a ham-fisted public statement from CEO Pete Parsons, who seemed to be doing his best to portray himself as an innocent bystander in the process, rather than the person ultimately responsible for the decision.

But it wasn’t just fans who were upset. Employee morale at Bungie has also crashed, according to IGN, and not just because of the job cuts: The report says Bungie has embarked on a number of cost-cutting measures including a hiring freeze, reducing travel budgets, eliminating holiday bonuses, and curtailing or ending other employee programs and benefits. Making matters worse, multiple employees told the site that management doesn’t seem particularly interested in hearing their concerns.

“It feels like many higher-ups aren’t listening to the data and are like, ‘We just need to win our fans back, they still like us’,” one employee said. “No. They don’t… We got rid of some of our most knowledgeable beloved folks who have been here for 20+ years. Everyday I walk in afraid that I or my friends are next. No one is safe.”

That “no one is safe” feeling is exacerbated by worries about the Destiny 2 expansion The Final Shape, which was recently delayed from a planned release in February to June 4. As the conclusion of the Light and Darkness saga that has been the narrative backbone of Destiny since the release of the original game, expectations for The Final Shape are very high and Bungie simply cannot afford to get it wrong. But the current state of player dissatisfaction with Destiny 2 and extended wait for the expansion has put the studio in an even tougher spot, and one source said the feeling among employees is that “we’re definitely looking at more layoffs” if The Final Shape doesn’t do well.

For once, that outcome could even reach all the way to upper management. When Sony acquired Bungie in 2022 it said the studio would operate as an “independent subsidiary,” headed by Parsons, who remained as CEO following the takeover, and with a board of directors split between representatives of Sony and Bungie. But multiple sources said that if Bungie misses financial targets by too wide a margin, Sony has the right to dissolve the current board and take full control.

That might not add up to much of a front-facing change—Bungie is a wholly-owned Sony studio, after all—but it would be a seismic shift internally: Parsons has been at Bungie for 21 years and has served as CEO for the past eight, while fellow board member and Bungie co-founder Jason Jones, also the studio’s chief creative officer, has been there since the very beginning. A third Bungie representative on the board, chief technology officer Luis Villegas, has nearly 15 years with the studio.

Given Bungie’s long-standing popular reputation among gamers, it’s startling to see its fortunes falling so far, so fast. But the studio has clearly been flailing in recent months—mostly recently, a $15 starter pack for Destiny 2 we described as “a nakedly obvious noob trap” was launched and then quickly pulled from sale in the face of a massive player backlash—and it really does feel like The Final Shape is going to be a make-or-break moment for Bungie and Destiny both.

I’ve reached out to Bungie for comment on the IGN report and will update if I receive a reply.