Now on Thursday, three days since reports of the layoffs first struck, the studio finally released a statement, calling this week “one of the most difficult weeks in our studio’s history, as we’ve parted ways with people we respect and admire.”
In the statement titled “Our Path Forward,” the studio emphasizes that it has heard fans’ concerns regarding its last big expansion and recent seasons, and that the studio understands “we need to make The Final Shape (its upcoming Destiny 2 expansion) an unforgettable Destiny experience.”
Bungie also admits that it knows “we have lost a lot of your trust. Destiny needs to surprise and delight. We haven’t done this enough and that’s going to change.”
“We want to build something that will be regarded alongside the best games we’ve ever made – a fitting culmination that honors the journey we’ve been on together for the past ten years. Forsaken, The Witch Queen, and The Taken King – these are the standard bearers we aim to live up to.
We are intensely focused on exceeding your expectations for The Final Shape. Destiny 2 has more than 650 dedicated teammates pouring all their energy and expertise into delivering this epic moment and its subsequent Episodes.”
Bungie then goes on to say that more news will arrive “in the weeks ahead,” regarding what’s next short term, like its coming season, and following that we’ll begin to see more about The Final Shape.
Across the whole statement, the word “layoffs” is never exactly used. Bungie only admits that there are people who were with the company, who now “no longer are,” implying that the decision for all these employees to leave at once was an amicable one.
Rather quickly, the statement turns from being about those who’ve lost their livelihoods, and to just how jazzed all the 650 people who still have a job are to make The Final Shape.
Name-dropping the expansions which still resonate with long-time Destiny fans minds even seems like an attempt to play on the nostalgia of those times, and pre-emptively place The Final Shape among those same giants which arguably made Destiny the phenomenon it is today.
If 2023 has been nothing else, it’s been a sour reminder that layoffs are a harsh, awful reality of the decisions that massive corporations make, and that they brutally effect thousands of people a year, while very little seems to change for those in the c-suite bracket.
Not that it’s anything beyond a performance, but there are still publishers who will at least call out what they’re doing when they do it, to say the word layoffs, and be more transparent about the kind of support it will provide those who’ve been laid off.
Bungie has done neither, and we’re meant to take the studio at its word that these people are being taken care of, despite the fact that the layoff was perfectly timed to make employees lose out on unvested shares they had within Bungie since it was purchased by Sony, with all those shares now reverting back to Bungie.
And despite that barring health benefits, Bungie only covered the benefits of those laid off for one extra day beyond their term with the studio.
Vague, lacking statements like this make the layoffs almost feel worse, and put Bungie’s name next to others in the industry who are more consistently seen in a shady spotlight.
If Bungie is aware that it has lost player trust, then this statement has provided no course of action through which it aims to get that trust back beyond making The Final Shape “unforgettable.”
A promise that every publisher makes, that its next project will be ‘unforgettable,’ just like it said about the last one, which turned out to in fact be forgettable.
Even if The Final Shape is amazing, it won’t solve the root problem that a lack of transparency from Bungie has created with the studio’s relationship with the players.
Hopefully there’s more transparency from the studio in the future, and for its own sake, that it is able to deliver on everything it is trying to make The Final Shape out to be.