Fired Halo Composer Now Owns a Part of Bungie Again

Fired Halo Composer Now Owns a Part of Bungie Again

Another legal victory for the embattled composer.

Earlier this summer, Marty O'Donnell, Bungie's music chief and composer of the iconic Halo theme, was fired. In the ensuing legal hailstorm, O'Donnell was eventually awarded almost $100,000 in damages and unpaid benefits. Now, an arbitrator (no, not that guy) has ordered Bungie to restore the composer's stock in the company as well.

It's impossible to know how much money was at stake here, as Bungie is privately held, and we don't know how much of a stake O'Donnell had. Still, Activision has reportedly pumped upwards of $500 million dollars into the upcoming Destiny, meaning they expect to make ungodly sums of cash from the game. Owning a bit of Bungie seems like a pretty safe bet.

At the time he was terminated, O'Donnell was working on the score for Destiny, along with Sir Paul McCartney. While the details behind the firing remain secret, O'Donnell later sued Bungie's CEO Harold Ryan directly for withholding unpaid overtime, vacation, and benefits, claiming the firing was without cause.

Before Bungie, O'Donnell was writing ad jingles. Now, after composing iconic scores for over a decade, I'm sure he'll have no problem finding work doing whatever he wants.

Source: Venture Beat

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Good on him. I wonder how Activisiton and Bungie must feel, humiliating themselves like that in front of the public and the industry when all they had to do was pay out the guys wages.

The more this develops, the more I'm convinced Activision leaned on someone in an attempt to pull another Infinity Ward Maneuver and in O'Donnell's case at least it's going about as well as last time for Activision.

It still astounds me that anyone would even consider working with or for Activision these days, it seems that no matter how big or small your project Activision will do every single thing in it's power (legal or not) to make sure that they keep all of the income and the ip and you get the absolute minimum they can get away with, whether it complies with your contract or not. You'd have to be mad or completely desperate to sign a deal with them.

mechalynx:
Good on him. I wonder how Activisiton and Bungie must feel, humiliating themselves like that in front of the public and the industry when all they had to do was pay out the guys wages.

Been a bit of a trend with Bobby Kotick's 'take all the fun out of making video games' Activision. Remember the Infinity Ward blow up?

mechalynx:
Good on him. I wonder how Activisiton and Bungie must feel, humiliating themselves like that in front of the public and the industry when all they had to do was pay out the guys wages.

fix-the-spade:
The more this develops, the more I'm convinced Activision leaned on someone in an attempt to pull another Infinity Ward Maneuver and in O'Donnell's case at least it's going about as well as last time for Activision.

It still astounds me that anyone would even consider working with or for Activision these days, it seems that no matter how big or small your project Activision will do every single thing in it's power (legal or not) to make sure that they keep all of the income and the ip and you get the absolute minimum they can get away with, whether it complies with your contract or not. You'd have to be mad or completely desperate to sign a deal with them.

What has Activision got to do with anything? they do not own Bungie unlike with Infinity Ward were they bought the studio. Activision were also not named in the lawsuit this is purely an internal Bungie issue.

If Activision were involved Marty O'Donnell would have received more money since these payout's are based on a company's earnings and Activision make more money than the rest of the 3rd party publishers combined (that's why people work with Activision they have all the money).

Now we just need 343 to hire him, so Halo can once again sound like Halo.

youji itami:

mechalynx:
Good on him. I wonder how Activisiton and Bungie must feel, humiliating themselves like that in front of the public and the industry when all they had to do was pay out the guys wages.

fix-the-spade:
The more this develops, the more I'm convinced Activision leaned on someone in an attempt to pull another Infinity Ward Maneuver and in O'Donnell's case at least it's going about as well as last time for Activision.

It still astounds me that anyone would even consider working with or for Activision these days, it seems that no matter how big or small your project Activision will do every single thing in it's power (legal or not) to make sure that they keep all of the income and the ip and you get the absolute minimum they can get away with, whether it complies with your contract or not. You'd have to be mad or completely desperate to sign a deal with them.

What has Activision got to do with anything? they do not own Bungie unlike with Infinity Ward were they bought the studio. Activision were also not named in the lawsuit this is purely an internal Bungie issue.

If Activision were involved Marty O'Donnell would have received more money since these payout's are based on a company's earnings and Activision make more money than the rest of the 3rd party publishers combined (that's why people work with Activision they have all the money).

Activision hate is a lot like EA hate. Regardless of whether its true or not, anything bad that happens in gaming is their fault.

DazBurger:
Now we just need 343 to hire him, so Halo can once again sound like Halo.

No way how do you not love the mindless sort of stuff Hans Zimmer shits out for every movie!? Its so bland your mind doesn't even pick it up as noise! Movie viewers love that shit why shouldn't gamers ?

youji itami:
What has Activision got to do with anything?

Because this kind of behaviour is part of their modus operandi. Whether it's admitted to or not, I don't believe the people in charge of Bungie just woke up one day and decided to fire the music guy. There's is always a motivating factor and it's usually money.

Activision not owning Bungie is neither here nor there, they pulled these kind of tactics on other contracted developers in the past (notably Double Fine and Super X studios) because ultimately they are keeping these developers in business. It's easy to throw your weight around when your victim is exclusively contracted to you and totally reliant on the income you're providing. We only ever hear about it when the victim sues and wins (so a minority of cases), but even these happen so consistently that it would be naive to assume they don't try it on with everybody.

Honestly when their reasoning is this

On July 1, Bungie stockholders elected to convert their Series B-1 and B-2 preferred stock into common stock. The arbitrator ruled that O'Donnell's rights as a shareholder should be restored. Bungie lawyers objected that if O'Donnell's shares were restored, he would be a "bothersome presence at board meetings and in the company," according to the arbitrator. But the arbitrator overruled them and restored O'Donnell's rights.

When the contract he signed until 2020 had this

The agreement held that O'Donnell would give up his unvested founders' shares if he left voluntarily.

I don't know all the ins and outs of corporate law, but I don't see how Bungie can take away his stock shares for he was fired without cause which doesn't mean the contract he signed was instantly void and he no longer has a right to those shares. Lets hope Janelle is part of the podcast this week and maybe explain this a little more.

We still don't know WHY they fired him and probably never will. It seems however, they didn't have very good grounds considering the legal spanking they're getting.

fix-the-spade:

youji itami:
What has Activision got to do with anything?

Because this kind of behaviour is part of their modus operandi. Whether it's admitted to or not, I don't believe the people in charge of Bungie just woke up one day and decided to fire the music guy. There's is always a motivating factor and it's usually money.

Activision not owning Bungie is neither here nor there, they pulled these kind of tactics on other contracted developers in the past (notably Double Fine and Super X studios) because ultimately they are keeping these developers in business. It's easy to throw your weight around when your victim is exclusively contracted to you and totally reliant on the income you're providing. We only ever hear about it when the victim sues and wins (so a minority of cases), but even these happen so consistently that it would be naive to assume they don't try it on with everybody.

QFT. The looming specter of publisher influence is ever present in the videogames industry, and while there is no evidence they were involved at all, the fact that such suspicion can reasonably be raised is a testament to the toxicity of the environment that the major publishers have engendered.

Videogames are moving towards a "gun for hire" mentality with all their employee's beyond core development and management. It's possible that the executives felt an in house composer was simply unnecessary when they could contract a for-work individual for each game. It's also possible that the stock that he owns is the real center of this - this being a power play by someone to command a larger stake in the company.

However it's backfired, and now there's a member of the board - the private board no less - whose hostile to the sitting executives, and you can bet that gums up any controversial or long term strategies they have.

It's good to know Marty's getting what he deserves after all the work he's done on Destiny (anyone listened to the Beta?), but I don't see any of this making it easier for him to get re-hired for Destiny 2.

Daaaah Whoosh:
It's good to know Marty's getting what he deserves after all the work he's done on Destiny (anyone listened to the Beta?), but I don't see any of this making it easier for him to get re-hired for Destiny 2.

I really don't think any of what is going on is to get rehired, but to get what he deserved. I am pretty sure he could go to any major developer and get a paycheque just as good as what Bungie was giving if not better.

Thats what happens when you fire a founder and owner of your own company.
Even as a fan of Bungie i roll my eyes to this nonsense.

Business is a cruel world yeah, and firing O'Donnell was just a bad business move by Bungie.

Maybe McCartney's ego coudn't handle working with a talented composer.

343i, PICK THIS GUY UP! I really hope someone is moving on making this possible. I feel like his home is with Halo, and they need to get him asap.

 

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