Are we starting to see a trend in the end of big publishers? Yesterday’s split between Bungie and Activision serves as a major move within the games industry. I was writing a column on the power of the EPIC Store and then well, this happened. Are the two related? Maybe, but more on that later. For now, let’s explore the split between Bungie, Destiny, and Activision. What does it mean and who benefits?
Destiny 2 has been doing fairly well in the market recently. The community is a good size and fans of the game are passionate. This speaks well for Bungie to maintain a solid community on titles going forward. It also frees them up to do more without a publisher hanging over their every move. Will Destiny have the budget it once used to get major ads into NFL game commercial slots and market at places like McDonalds? Who knows, but we know this, the game is strong. Strong enough for the studio to stand on its own.
The Activision side of the story is much more interesting. After a plummeting stock price, down almost $4.00 already today based on this news, Activision Blizzard is circling the wagons so to speak. If you look at the past few weeks they have not had a good run. A failed BlizzCon and the scuttling of Heroes of the Storm esports efforts are announcements from the Blizzard side that were the first dents in the armor of an almost 20 year perfect run from that side of the company. With the news of Destiny leaving, fans have been cheering. Is Activision finally feeling a pinch?
With new ways for developers to publish and market games, like the EPIC Store, studios have a way to now build for themselves without the need of major publishers. This is by no means a perfect system, but Bungie is in the right place to make this work. They have a strong community already loyal to Destiny. They also have a brand name as a studio with integrity and quality among fans. They should be able to move well within the publishing space and already have the console ties from Halo days. Bungie seems to be coming out of this okay. Let’s not forget the NetEase investment they received last year as well to build new games outside of Destiny.
Activision, in their statement, will focus on IP owned products. Call of Duty is the big one. However, that game seems to have run its course. There have been so many iterations and the last one had lost tremendous ground to titles like Fortnite. They also have host to all of Blizzard’s titles and with mike Morheim now leaving the company, it begs the question if they are putting more resources into that side of things? Also, Destiny 2 will remain on the Battle.net store and be fully supported.
The signs here are maybe Bungie is looking to move away from Destiny and on to a new title or genre? With the investments they have received it will be interesting to see what they plan to do. The difference here can me similar to Bioware’s relationship with EA. Many people feel like it has faltered over the years. Now what if Bioware branched out on their own again? Interested thought right? Well this could be the theoretical comparison to draw with Bungie. Now that they are on their own, it may be that some great games are coming our way. If I had to wish, I’d go for a fantasy RPG, but that is just me thinking out loud.