Destiny 2 is going independent.
Bungie, the Bellevue, Wash.-based game developer, announced Thursday that going forward it will self-publish the massively-multiplayer first-person shooter, taking over from its previous partner Activision-Blizzard.
According to the Bungie news post, the process of transition is already underway, with the stated intention that the handoff from Activision will be as seamless as possible as far as players are concerned.
Destiny 2 was the single best-selling game of 2017, according to the NPD Group, although it sold a full 50 percent fewer physical copies than the original title. While neither Bungie nor Activision have ever divulged official stats on its player population, independent services such as DestinyTracker have indicated the game, after the release of the Forsaken expansion last fall, was regularly played by around 3 million people.
Despite its initial commercial and critical success, it was already known that Activision wasn’t happy with the sales figures on Destiny 2 as of last November, and had planned to take steps to address the issue. For that matter, the actual Destiny fans weren’t happy with the game either back at launch, and Bungie has spent most of the last year and a half steadily renovating it. That all culminated in Forsaken, which is considered to have put Destiny as a franchise into the best place it’s ever been.
The end of its deal with Bungie marks the latest in a series of high-profile departures for Activision-Blizzard, which has been having a troubled year despite blockbuster sales for its Call of Duty: Black Ops IV. The company has some of the highest-grossing franchises in video games, with Black Ops IV collecting half a billion dollars in holiday revenue, but all of those franchises seem to be suffering from declining revenues, mismanagement, talent drain, or all three at once.
Going forward, Bungie intends to stick to its previously-established content road map, while Activision will “increase their focus on owned IP projects.” Destiny 2 will continue to be available digitally via Activision-Blizzard’s Battle.net service, which means that fans of other Blizzard franchises such as Overwatch will still be able to buy Destiny 2 with currencies generated in their other games.
Destiny 2 will still receive full support on BattleNet and we do not anticipate any disruption to our services or your gameplay experience. https://t.co/FFOE1iae3R
— BlizzardCS (@BlizzardCS) January 10, 2019
Bungie operates out of a former movie theater in downtown Bellevue. It first made a name for itself with Macintosh-exclusive games like the Marathon series before being acquired by Microsoft, which published Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved as one of the first tentpole exclusives for the original Xbox in 2001. Halo went on to become a multi-million-dollar franchise, and became so successful that Bungie was able to split back off into its own independent entity in 2007. Bungie’s last game in the Halo series was 2010’s Halo: Reach.
Bungie subsequently signed a four-game deal with Activision to create the series that eventually became Destiny. At the time of its release, the original Destiny was one of the single most expensive video game productions ever made, but led to nearly $1 billion in profits (alongside the free-to-play card game Hearthstone) for Activision-Blizzard in 2015.