Bungie President Harold Ryan is out a week after reports emerged that one of the game publisher’s most anticipated titles of 2016, "Destiny 2," is facing significant delays. Pete Parsons, acting chief operating officer, will take over as CEO. Ryan had occupied Bungie's top job for the past eight years.
"Harold Ryan will be stepping down from his position," Bungie said in a tersely worded statement that did not explain why the executive is stepping down.
Ryan's departure is surprising based on the popularity of "Destiny" in the gaming community and its reputation for successful franchises such as "Halo". "The Taken King" was widely praised when it was released in 2015 and "Destiny" made many year-end lists based on the expansions shipped last year.
In terms of numbers, Bungie made $325 million in global sales during the first five days of the release of "Destiny" in 2014. The number of "Destiny" units sold has not been released by Bungie, but a lawsuit did reveal the title sold 6.3 million copies in its first month. Sales figures were not provided after the release of "The Taken King" expansion content.
In its earnings report for the third quarter of fiscal year 2015, Bungie's publishing partner, Activision Blizzard, emphasized 25 million registered players and strong community engagement with "Destiny."
In a statement, Parson said he's committed to Destiny's further development. "I believe that Destiny is a one-of-a-kind experience. I also believe you have yet to see our studio’s best work."
A Kotaku report indicated a constantly changing plan for "Destiny" and the next game in the franchise was responsible for a lack of frequent updates that frustrated players of late.
Microsoft acquired Bungie in 2000 with "Halo" as an exclusive franchise on the original Xbox. Bungie became an independent company in 2007 in an agreement where Microsoft retained a minority stake and all "Halo" intellectual property. The partnership between the two parties continued until 2009 with the release of "Halo: Reach" for the Xbox 360.
In 2010, Bungie announced a 10-year publishing partnership with Activision Blizzard. Unlike the deal with Microsoft, Bungie keeps the rights to the IP developed during this period.
"Destiny" was the first game developed by Bungie under Activision. The online action-adventure franchise was met with critical acclaim, but there was some disappointment as many critics and gamers noted there was room for improvement.
The release of the expansion "The Taken King" in September 2015 fixed many of the problems gamers had with the franchise.
Bungie did not release new expansions or DLC for "Destiny" after "The Taken King," instead opting for timed events like Sparrow Racing League or the upcoming Valentine's Day-themed Crimson Days. The plan to switch from regular paid DLC updates to free events was due, in part, to the development of "Destiny 2," according to a Kotaku report from October 2015.
Four months after "The Taken King," some players are getting restless. Critics want Bungie to reveal more about their plans for "Destiny" and "Destiny 2."