Here we are again, embroiled in yet another controversy involving game studios treating their employees like disposable assets. This time, it's Bungie (who's parent company is Sony now, don't forget). Known for titles like Destiny 2 and Halo, Bungie has long been a staple of the gaming industry. But their recent mass layoff of 100 employees, who were already living in uncertain times, underscores a deeply disturbing trend in the gaming world: treating its passionate, dedicated workforce like mere numbers on a spreadsheet.
The Cold Hard Facts
According to a report by Bloomberg, Bungie's workforce was cut by 8%, approximately 100 staff members, after a meeting where they were warned of underperforming revenue streams. The shortfall was primarily blamed on the 'poor player retention for Destiny 2.' The layoffs were carried out on October 30th, conveniently timing them so that many employee benefits lasted for just a single day.
How humane, right?
The Bitter Pill of Unvested Shares
Let's talk about the poisoned chalice that is employee shares. Sony had acquired Bungie for $3.6 billion, allocating around $1.2 billion for employee retention. They promised shares as an incentive to keep talented employees onboard. These shares were ‘unvested,’ meaning they could only be accessed if the employees stayed for a certain number of years. However, those shares revert to Bungie if you leave, or, as it turns out, are unceremoniously shown the door.
A Disease, Not An Isolated Incident
What happened at Bungie isn't an isolated event. Earlier this month, Naughty Dog (also, parent company - Sony) cut contracts short for dozens of workers. Media Molecule also had to lay off staff. These just scratch the surface. 2023 has not been kind to those employed in the Video Game Industry. So, in turn, one could argue that the gaming industry at large has a bigger problem. It's a brutal machine that frequently discards its human components as soon as they are seen as expendable.
Profit Over People
CEOs and executives constantly reiterate how they're one big 'family,' but these actions show a starkly different narrative. It's all business, profits over people, numbers over well-being. And frankly, it's exhausting. It's gross.
A Call for Change
When will this exploitation of passion and talent stop? It's high time that industry leaders and consumers alike take a stand against these unjust practices. Otherwise, we're implicitly agreeing to let companies run wild at the expense of the very people who make our beloved games possible.