Report: Bungie workplace mired in sexist, toxic behavior

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen (Image credit: Bungie, Inc.)

What you need to know

  • Bungie is a game development studio known for creating Halo and more recently, the Destiny 2 franchise.
  • According to a new report from IGN, the studio has been dealing with a toxic workplace environment and huge crunch over the last several years.
  • Some of the developers at the studio are reportedly fighting for internal change.

Destiny 2 developer Bungie is struggling with workplace problems including sexist, toxic behavior, per a report from IGN. According to the report, which cites 26 former and current Bungie employees, the studio has a long history of allowing sexist workplace behavior to go unpunished, as well as a long history of crunch.

Despite Bungie publicly stating it had a commitment to not crunching, the narrative team is reported to have spent up to 100 hours per week working on some of the expansions for Destiny 2. This problem was also reportedly exacerbated by the struggle to hire additional narrative staff as full-time employees instead of relying on contractors.

Many women and other minority employees at Bungie reportedly felt marginalized, as other staff made sexist or inappropriate comments on a regular basis without reprimand. Bungie's public statement in the wake of Activision Blizzard's ongoing lawsuit was reportedly seen as hypocritical within Bungie. Bungie's HR department was also seen as only interested in protecting the company, not listening to any employees who came forward with problems.

"They have that core value that they don't tolerate assholes even if they're rockstars but they totally do. All that's aspirational. Those are the values they want to get to, but they're not enforcing them," one employee stated.

The report also notes that some employees with Bungie, including women and allies, are pushing back for change. The groups are small but are working to push back for a more inclusive company culture.

"Even though it shouldn't be on their shoulders, the truth is that the closer we can be to an accurate reflection of our community the better we'll be as a company," another employee said. "Our workplace could always be better; I'm glad that as a company we recognize that and we're addressing it."

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

  • Learned from Activision?
  • Bungie predates their (arm's length) relationship with Activision.
  • That was a joke, but what a coincidence. Unfortunately this is a real problem in the tech industry.
  • *pretends to be shocked*
  • At this point, with similar accusations popping up all over, one is tempted to ask about the age and tenure of the complainers. Might there be a generation gap at play? A difference in culture, especially workplace humor, and expectations? Are they talking legally actionable stuff or just day to day rudeness and cluelessness? No company ever in the history of mankind has ever been a unicorns and fuzzy bunnies playground and (productive) workplace jerks have always been tolerated because of their productivity. In olden times (circa 2015) if you didn't like your job, you found a new one and moved along. In many professions the typical tenure ran 5 years on average, especially fresh outs. What is worth remembering is that disgruntled employees suing over workplace conditions is hardly new and their cases don't always prosper. IIRC, another game developer recently won a lawsuit against the Guardian(?) for their reporting on an employee workplace dispute. Activision, what made it stand out was that the managers did nothing to address the claims, giving the impression they had no counter-narrative, leaving the hostility claims to win the PR war. Bungie? TBD.
    Let's not stampede without more info, from both sides.
  • No, in Activision's case, what stood out was that it was so egregiously bad over there that various state agencies are holding them accountable *for breaking the law*. One might also be tempted to ask, with all these reports popping up if this is an endemic problem in the industry, requiring greater legal scrutiny of business practices.
  • Absolutely, if the problem is proven to be real.
    But proof needs to be more than anecdata and rumors from disgruntled.
    Activision there was enough for the state to step in, at which point any well run outfit would have tried to minimize the damage to the stock. That they didn't is sheer stupidity. What concerns me in this report is the comingling of sexual matters (criminal) and crunch time, an established practice and a condition of employment in *many* industries. Enough that there is a government-sanctioned category for it: Exempt employees sign employment contracts and should understand what the job involved is. There are compensations that come with it, flexible work hours, compensatory time, high income, and often stock options or quality retirement plans.
    Crunch time is not illegal.
    Nor is it a sign of a "hostile" environment.
    EA, for one, has long been notorious for crunch but other than handwringing it isn't actionable.
    Exempt employment is voluntary; anybody who thinks the compensation package is inadequate is free to leave at a moment's notice. (Many places will even waive the requirement for two weeks' notice.) That is why I'm curious about the age and tenure of the complainers.
    Are they long timers facing burnout? Common in SiliValley, where cashing in options and retiring early is a cure for many? Others opt for sabaticals, which many companies facilitate, or simply move on in search for a different work/life balance.
    Or are we looking at recent hires that are discovering that professional jobs aren't a safe space and petty annoyances from coworkers are part of the job. As the old TV show put it: "you put up with my crap and they put up with yours". It's called adulthood. With all those options out there, I withhold judgment until I see some specific evidence. Maybe enough to get people fired (in any half decent company) or state involvement.
    Until then, it is unproven rumors.
  • "********, rockstars, including womens ..." ?
    It's end of cycle of videogame Destiny.
    Maybe stop to send private message for games in development ?
    Definitively, play has no limits.
  • I’m so sick of reading about this crap. Get the social justice movement out of gaming. All this is a push for game studios to become “progressive”. Learn from Mass Effect Andromeda, where they hired people based on politics instead of gaming experience and the game was total **** as a result. All these lame ass reports do is make me want to support the companies. Unless we’re talking about an actual rape being covered up, I don’t care who has a general feeling of discomfort in the workplace. Get a new job if you don’t like it somewhere.
  • Wow, so it's okay to you to treat others poorly or violate federal laws? Nice. I bet your family is quite proud of you.
  • So you would be perfectly fine if guys were making advances at you at work? And if you said you're not interested it wouldn't matter they'd just keep doing it.
  • Apparently, this is commonplace in the industry. I'm disappointed but I'm not surprised. I am curious. Is this something new or was this behavior also present back when they were owned by Microsoft?
  • The entire video game industry is like this.
    The entire movie industry is like this.
    The entire theatre industry is like this.
    The entire world is like this...
    I don't understand why this is shocking news anymore.