At the beginning of May 2014, composer Marty O’Donnell sued Bungie for firing him “without cause”. The year and a half-long feud has finally come to a close. A court-appointed arbitrator has ruled that Bungie did indeed violate the contract with O’Donnell when he was fired “without cause” and forced him to forfeit his company stock and be removed from Bungie’s profit-sharing plan. O’Donnell simply said, “I’m happy this is over, and I’m ready to move on.”
O’Donnell is receiving quite a bit of compensation from this settlement in addition to $95,000 that he had received in a previous settlement for unpaid work, vacation time, and legal fees. He will receive $142,500 for the first payment of Bungie’s profit-sharing program. He is also entitled to 192,187.5 shares of Bungie stock that had been taken from him. The exact value of this is unknown, but is likely significant.
The lawsuit’s resolution has also shed light on the reasons for O’Donnell’s dismissal in April 2014. O’Donnell worked with Sir Paul McCartney on music for Destiny, but Activision replaced the music for the game’s E3 2013 trailer. O’Donnell and Bungie both fought Activision on this issue, but Bungie had to give in to its publisher. Shortly thereafter, O’Donnell and Bungie were at odds.
As reasoning for his dismissal, O’Donnell was accused of impeding the game’s progress as part of the audio team. O’Donnell claims to have been fighting to maintain Bungie’s internal culture. The full ruling on the case can be seen here.
O’Donnell has now founded a new game studio, Highwire Games, with some former Bungie developers. Destiny will have its next expansion, The Taken King, on September 15.