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Fans and employees alike are still learning who exactly has been fired from Bungie after widespread layoffs yesterday. After a company meeting with CEO Pete Parsons, employees from a huge range of departments learned they no longer had jobs, including cuts from social media, community management, engineering, player support, QA, recruitment and legal teams.
But while many cuts were of very front-facing team members like half the comms team, later in the day rumors started to circulate that Bungie may have done the unthinkable and laid off Michael Salvatori, Destiny’s famed composer responsible for countless incredible tracks in franchise history.
First, there was a report from Carson Reed that Salvatori had been let go, citing inside information. But as of this morning, Salvatori, who is not on social media, changed his website bio to strip out all mentions of Bungie, altering the text to “Gone Fishin’ :)”
It is possible that rather than being outright fired, Salvatori instead was let go through some sort of “early retirement or else” offer instead. But this happening on the same day as all these other layoffs, and including another member of the music team being let go, Deep Stone Lullaby composer Michael Sechrist (who changed his bio to “gone fishin’ with Salvatori…”), it’s obviously a part of the same culling, in no matter what form it took.
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Whatever the case, this is obviously not what happened with former famed Halo composer Marty O’Donnell (Salvatori was also hugely responsible for Halo music) which resulted in a messy split from Bungie and lawsuits, a grudge he bears to this day. In this case, everyone, especially fans, loved Salvatori and no matter the ups and downs of the game, his music never missed. Not ever.
For many players, this moment specifically feels like the beginning of the end for Destiny. While that may be hyperbolic and almost impossible, given that Destiny 2 is all of Bungie’s revenue right now and they can’t stop supporting it anytime soon, it certainly does raise questions about the level of continued investment in the game past The Final Shape, whether it’s limping to Marathon’s release or if Bungie really does have a strong, longer-term plan for it. But both employee and fan morale has absolutely tanked after yesterday, and it’s not clear just to what extent it could recover.
Whatever happens, this is very much a sea change moment for Bungie. I heard the idea of laying off your social and comms teams in a moment like this being like firing your fire department. Now, with Salvatori gone, I don’t even know the analogy (bulldozing your town’s best music venue?), but it’s extremely bad, and wild to see that one of the only higher-up people in the company seemingly losing their job is…the one doing the best work possible, as he has for years. Bad, bad times at Bungie right now. I have asked Salvatori for comment and will update if I hear back.
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