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Bungie Once Again Proves They’re Better Off Without Activision

Since splitting with Activision Blizzard, developer Bungie has taken pains to distance itself from its former boss. The latest change sees the company tackling the thorny issue of forced arbitration.
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Bungie, the legendary game studio that created beloved franchises like Halo and Destiny, has made a sweeping change to their worker’s rights rules. The company announced in a blog post on Thursday that they will be removing forced arbitration clauses from their worker contracts, allowing workers to exercise their legal rights to challenge discriminatory practices in court.

A screenshot of the Destiny 2 character Elsie Bray
Bungie

Activision Blizzard, the company that once essentially owned Bungie, is currently facing a series of lawsuits over its alleged discrimination and workplace harassment of women and people of color. Activision Blizzard faces scrutiny from media outlets and fans alike for its arbitration clauses in particular, which force workers to waive their rights to sue their employer. Instead, the employer takes things to a third-party arbiter, but only one they approve.

Arbitration clauses are nothing new in the industry. Back in 2019, workers at Riot Games, the company that makes League of Legends, staged a walkout over their distaste for forced arbitration clauses. While Riot did change its arbitration policy, making it optional for new hires, existing workers are still bound by their original contracts.

Bungie Is Better Off Without Activision Blizzard

Bungie’s announcement yesterday is seen by fans and critics alike as a direct dig at their former bosses. While Bungie was once under Activision’s umbrella, the company managed to wriggle free and secure its own position as an independent developer. Anecdotally, the company’s current game, Destiny 2, is in a better place now than it ever was when Bungie had to play along with Activision’s oversight.

When Activision was in control, Bungie was compelled to release expansions for the game every few months, a pace that the studio was clearly uncomfortable hitting. After moving away from the strict oversight of Activision, the studio has slowed its pace down to one major expansion per year, supported by “seasons” that act as story vignettes between major tentpole moments in the main story expansions.

As a Destiny 2 player myself, let me be the most recent to say good riddance to Activision Blizzard, a company that actively meddled in Bungie’s creative process and forced them to release a sequel that forced a hard break between Destiny 1 and Destiny 2. Bungie, for their own part, never had any intention of splitting the game’s player base between the original title and a sequel, but Activision reportedly wanted to see sales numbers jump from the release of a new retail copy of the game.

Fan Response

Many fans have reacted warmly to Bungie’s new statements of commitment to diversity and worker’s rights. While the company has also made some missteps in this regard in the past, fans largely agree that Bungie is still striving to be inclusive going forward.

The company is notably one of the most vocal large publishers when it comes to diversity and inclusivity.

Meanwhile, fan displeasure with Activision Blizzard continues to escalate. Many former fans have taken issue with everything from the company’s stance on arbitration to their use of alleged union-busting law firms in the defense of their recent spate of government lawsuits. Criticism over Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s salary, as ever, remains dominant in fan discussions.