A new report has come out that details the toxic work culture that flourished at Bungie, the developer of Destiny 2 and creator of the Halo franchise. Specifically it talks about crunch and mental stress across the team, but also how the studio has been trying to acknowledge and right the ship over the years.
The new report by IGN's Rebekah Valentine details the work culture that fostered at the dev studio since development on the first Destiny. Speaking to twenty-six separate current and former employees, the IGN report paints a picture of a company that allowed a sexist, boy's club culture, as well as periods of crunch and huma resources protecting abusers at the studio.
The report focuses a lot on the narrative team and the struggles those employees went through dealing with toxic leadership as well as crunch over the course of Destiny's development. The team, especially the women on the team, were subjugated abusive behavior from white, male leaders, with many of the transgressions shrugged off as "jokes," or that those complaining needed "thicker skin." The team also dealt with the fallout of the Curse of Osiris story, wtih fans of the game targeting women on the narrative team and hurling abuse at them - some of which was reportedly spread around the Bungie office by leaders.
The report prompted current Bungie community lead Chris Shannon to apologize on Twitter for not supporting the team enough.
I want apologize to everyone on the narrative team who didn’t get the support they needed and deserved by our team during times of hardship, or at any other time for that matter. We should have done more to protect you from toxicity in the past, and will do more in the future.— Cozmo (@Cozmo23) December 10, 2021
The report also details an HR department that protects abusers, with one source telling IGN that "It's a well known fact, if you talk to HR you're putting your own job on the line." Multiple sources speak of a Bungie HR employee, who IGN states is still employed with the company, was described to actively protect "harmful individuals."
It's an interesting dynamic, especially when you consider during the first few weeks following the news of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit allegations, Bungie publicly admonished the publisher while detailing what the studio is doing to overcome its own past. In September, Bungie announced it was ending its own mandatory arbitration, calling on the industry to be more inclusive.
However, in response to the report today, CEO Pete Parsons apologized to those who have "experienced anything less than a safe, fair and professional working environment at Bungie."
"First, I want to apologize to anyone who has ever experienced anything less than a safe, fair, and professional working environment at Bungie. I am not here to refute or to challenge the experiences we're seeing shared today by people who have graced our studio with their time and talent. Our actions or, in some cases, inactions, caused these people pain. I apologize personally and on behalf of everyone at Bungie who I know feels a deep sense of empathy and sadness reading through these accounts. "
Parsons also admits that the studio took too long to address some of the bad actors operating at Bungie, and that the studio wasn't as transparent as they could have been when releasing these developers. However, Parsons states that while he believes the "people whose behavior warranted removal" from Bungie, they are willing to take what ever actions necessary if new information does come to light as a result of the report or through sources reporting within the company.
"We believe the people whose behavior warranted removal from our company have been terminated or are no longer working for Bungie, but if new information comes to light – whether through this story or by named or anonymous people coming forward – we will act on that information and investigate with integrity. "