Destiny, Halo Composer Wins Legal Battle Against Bungie
"I'm happy this is over, and I'm ready to move on."
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The legal battle between Halo and Destiny composer Marty O'Donnell and Bungie has come to a close. A court-appointed arbitrator ruled this week that Bungie violated its contract with O'Donnell when it fired him "without cause" and made him give up his company stock and drop out of Bungie's profit-sharing plan.
O'Donnell told GamesBeat, "I'm happy this is over, and I'm ready to move on."
O'Donnell will be awarded at least $142,500 through the first payment of the profit participation program. A previous settlement from Bungie and president Harold Ryan awarded O'Donnell $95,000 for unpaid work, vacation time, and legal fees. O'Donnell is also entitled to recover 192,187.5 Bungie shares, the value of which is unknown (Bungie is not a publicly traded company), but is presumed to be high.
The veteran composer first filed suit in early May 2014 claiming Ryan had denied him pay for things like unused vacation time, paid time off, and other benefits--all of which Bungie's policies dictate he would get. Ryan and Bungie responded later in the month, denying the allegations and stating O'Donnell was not "entitled to the relief requested, or any relief whatsoever."
What might be more interesting about this week's news, however, is that court papers shine a light on the events surrounding O'Donnell's eventual termination, which came in April 2014. GamesBeat, which first broke the news, has a great summary of the events, but the quick story goes something like this.
The music O'Donnell created for Destiny alongside Beatle Paul McCartney was replaced with Activision-made music for a Destiny trailer to be shown at E3 2013, according to the lawsuit. O'Donnell wasn't happy. Bungie initially fought alongside O'Donnell on this case, but Activision had its way. It was also during this time, according to the court papers, that a fallout between O'Donnell and Bungie began to bubble up.
O'Donnell is accused of general insubordination in wake of the E3 2013 trailer music swap. For his part, the composer claimed in the court papers that he was fighting back against the effect Activision was having on Bungie's culture. In the court papers, O'Donnell says he was trying to preserve Bungie's spirit in the face of "Activision's encroachment into artistic decisions." But O'Donnell was eventually let go.
You can read the full ruling here.
Earlier this summer, O'Donnell founded a new video game studio, Highwire Games, with a team of former Bungie developers. The next Destiny release, meanwhile, is The Taken King, which arrives on September 15.
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