As tense court proceedings loom ahead for Activision and ex-Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella following the pair’s sudden removal from their own studio in March 2010 and in an effort to claim tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars in damages and royalty promises from the publisher, details have surfaced on another Activision partnership entirely.
As a result of the impending Activision/West/Zampella lawsuit, a 27-page agreement document has been brought into the focus as a means to compare Infinity Ward’s agreement with that of Bungie, with details on the Halo creator’s next game series, codenamed ‘Destiny,’ as well as expansion packs, codenamed ‘Comet.’
In the document, details of Bungie’s exact publishing agreement with Activision have also been arrived, revealing development costs of $50 million for ‘Destiny’ – a figure that excludes marketing and other ancillary costs related to the release of a game.
In addition, Bungie insisted on ownership of the franchise’s intellectual property (a holy grail in publishing deals) and stands to earn between 20% and 35% of ‘operating income’ after Activision’s costs (development, marketing, production, additional fees) are deducted from profits made on the game – another impressive feat on the part of Bungie’s negotiation team.
Bungie is also owed $2.5 million per year in performance-based bonuses from 2010 until 2013, while a separate bonus of $2.5 million is also promised if ‘Destiny’ achieves a score of 90 out of 100 (or better) on GameRankings.com (as opposed to MetaCritic)
If Activision is unsatisfied with ‘Destiny’s’ performance post release, however, the publisher is able to cancel what has turned out to be a four-game agreement – the first of which is due for release at the end of 2013, with a new entry to the series every other year. A timed-exclusive release on Xbox 360 and ‘Xbox 720’ is planned, followed by releases on PlayStation 3, its successor, and PC.
If the first game in the franchise doesn’t sell over five million units in six months of release, however, Activision can choose to terminate the contract, or if the publisher can find reason to do so, can cancel the agreement after the second franchise expansion.
In the 27-page document, Bungie’s ‘Destiny’ game has been described as a “massively-multiplayer-style, sci-fi fantasy, action shooter,” with “persistent elements.”
The ‘Destiny’ game has also been referred to as ‘Tiger’ (both in rumour and in the official document), which confirms outright the authenticity of in-development images released last year.
Of interest to long-time Bungie fans, and according to the contract, the studio is allowed to dedicate no more than 5% of its staff to work on another game completely, codenamed ‘Marathon’ – a possible successor to the developer’s cult-classic first-person shooter of the same name.
If you’ve got some time on your hands, you can read through the full 27-page document over here, and also be sure to read over the full Ben Fritz and Alex Pham story on LA Times (who broke the news) to discover why this information is relevant to the Activision/West/Zampella case.
What are your thoughts on the power of Bungie and its ability to negotiate such a comfortable contract with Activision – an agreement that Microsoft is confirmed to have passed on (Microsoft had right of first refusal to publish Bungie’s next franchise)?
Do you think moving towards a massively-multiplayer-like game is a good move on Bungie’s part? Is this the way blockbuster games should be moving in order to ensure a long-time audience – by including ‘persistent elements?’