‘Halo’ and ‘Destiny’ Composer Martin O’Donnell Fired by Bungie

Published 6 months ago by

Martin O'Donnell Fired by Bungie

In the business of video games, studio departures are nothing new. High profile developers leaving big name studios has become so commonplace as of late, that we’re surprised when a month goes by without a major announcement. However, in this particular case, the situation is a little different.

Longtime Bungie Composer and Audio Director Martin O’Donnell has been fired from the Halo and Destiny developer. O’Donnell broke the news of his termination via Twitter, and Bungie then confirmed it with an official statement.

According to O’Donnell, the Bungie Board of Directors terminated his employment on April 11th, but they did so “without cause.” He wouldn’t say more than that, but the tone of O’Donnell’s tweet suggests he did not see this coming. Gamers certainly didn’t.

Shortly after O’Donnell broke the news, Bungie released an official statement voicing their gratitude and wishing him well in future endeavors. Read the statement below:

For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans. Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future.

We wish him luck in all his future endeavors.

While it’s unlikely we’ll ever hear the full story on O’Donnell’s firing, the news comes to a huge shock to anyone who regularly follows Bungie news. Not only was O’Donnell one of the key figures, alongside partner Michaehl Salvatori, when it came to the soundtracks of the Halo franchise, but he also directed the voice talent and sound design for those games. In other words, this is a huge hit to the Bungie development team, even if it was a collective decision on the board of directors’ part.

Considering the unceremonious nature of O’Donnell’s departure, some might be quick to assume there is trouble at Bungie, but it’s hard to know for sure. They’ve certainly lost a key piece of the development team, but that doesn’t mean O’Donnell’s work on Destiny wasn’t close to completion if it wasn’t fully complete. That being said, if the game slips beyond its September 9th release date that could lead to speculation O’Donnell’s termination is emblematic of larger issues at Bungie.

Either way, we suspect that O’Donnell likely won’t have trouble finding a new gig. His Halo soundtrack is one of the most iconic soundtracks of this past two console generations, which should be a good enough resume on its own. In fact, we hear a certain Star Wars project is ramping up development…

Does O’Donnell’s unceremonious departure from Bungie impact your anticipation for Destiny? What franchise would you like to see O’Donnell work on next?

Destiny releases September 9, 2014 for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

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Source: Martin O’Donnell – Twitter

TAGS: Bungie, Destiny, Halo

16 Comments

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  1. well as surprising as this comes i dont think it will be that much of a big deal for the games developement. A soundtrack doesnt really help sell more units of a game and his duties as sound recording director or whatever he did can be done by someone else. maybe thats even the reason he got fired?! just imagine someone inside Bungie’s board of directors looking into how to slim costs down and then thinking “hm… could that be done by someone else whos already doing similar stuff inside the company and/or is cheaper”

    also his soundtrack to HALO might be viewed as iconic by some (most) (not me) doesnt mean his soundtrack to DESTINY would have the same or even similar impact. it might have been totally lame too. just like a movie director sometimes makes a crappy movie followed by a masterpiece.

    long story short…. dont see much of a problem here. If there are more people fired though and the release date of the game should indeed shift then there might be something else going on internally but unless i hear more about that i am not worried.

    • This is literally the most logical comment I have ever seen on any gamerant article. Kudos! (No sarcasm)

    • How old are you? If the original Halo was not something you watched being launched beside the original Xbox, your statement has no relevance to the situation. When Halo 2 and then 3 were being advertised on TV, the opening bars were all ANYONE in a room full of gamers needed to know that the trailer was for Halo, people who didn’t even know what Halo was would know that was a Halo game.

      And then Halo 4 came out, and it got no where with the new crowd…because it did not sound like Halo. It was like playing Jedi Knight, the Dark Forces expansion. It sucked for lack of awesome moments accompanied by awesome music. Music is everything. O’Donnell will be missed.

      • I am 27, I was to busy doing things outside of gaming to watch the original Halo being launched besides the original X Box. I did not watch it. Just because he did not watch it does not mean he is five years old or whatever.

        And music is NOT everything to a game, music is EVERYTHING to a CD and iTunes, but for games, it is graphics, the ability to replay it more then once, the controls, the quality of story telling and emotional attachment you have to the story and the characters.

        The music is just a bonus, music is NOT everything to the game itself. If it is for you then you have a very one dimensional mind.

        • But to say music isn’t an important factor for a good game is also silly. Music and sound design add a very serious dimension to games that otherwise wouldn’t exist. s*****, non-engaging sound design makes for a very dull game. And now more than ever, with the advent of all the pro-headgear hype in the gaming world, sound design and music is vastly important.

        • Actually the word you are looking for is synergistic. Because only through the synergy of the moment of seeing the crashed Pillar of Autumn and the mournful quality of the music at the end of Halo 1 do you feel yourself prepare to blow up your last link to home (you think at the time).

          And only thought the combined effects of the graphics and the cutscene in the beginning of Halo 2 do you begin to wonder just who is the Covenant Commander being tried for Heresy (the Arbiter) not to mention the medal ceremony on the Cairo being contrasted to the torture and branding of the Arbiter. And in Halo 3, remember finding Cortana? Try that scene on without the music to set its tone and emotion.

          The music is not a bonus, and if the term one dimensional is to be used in this series of posts than it needs look no further than you for a prime example .

      • As another 27-year-old, and a musician, I can tell you that the single most important draw for me to Destiny was to hear more of Marty’s work and to experience it in an interactive setting. This news definitely impacts whether I will pre-order or purchase the game, as I was absolutely going to buy it prior to the announcement, but am now going to wait and see whether the soundtrack will continue to feature Marty’s work or not.

  2. this guy blows. bungie blows.

    everything except the noise a bottle makes when you blow in it blows. If anyone at Bungie is reading this, i hear that you have a position that just opened up. i can blow in a jug and make purdy music for you ill do it cheap 2.

    • Stop going out of your way for attention, troll.

    • Back to your bridge, troll.

    • Go back to under the bridge troll

  3. In the end, loyalty is a concept that companies only understand to work in one direction.

  4. To anyone that says sound is not an important factor, you clearly have forgotten how Bungie showed off Destiny at E3. The screen was black and all you could hear was music playing, and that alone got people excited to play the game. The Halo soundtrack IS iconic and I for one will always remember as being the best soundtrack to any game I have ever played. In fact, the music itself is way more memorable than any of the actual gameplay. That being said, Bungie better have had a damn good reason for firing the most prolific soundtrack designer in the history of the gaming universe (money issues, possibly?) because any subsequent games they produce won’t sound nearly as good.

  5. Still wasn’t sure whether to get ps4 or Xbox one when the time comes, but after seeing that destiny won’t live near up to where halo was, I’m prolly gonna go with Xbox one with halo 5.. Better a game with a good background and universe carried on by 343 than one without the background Or music by bungie

  6. What the hell Bungie! I’ve been looking foreword the Destiny’s music and still am as it will probable be O’Donnell’s but what dos this mean for later updates with new content and the next installment? I hope they find someone just as good because when you go cheap… well you get what you pay for!

  7. Music and sound design are major parts of successful games and advertising them. They’re a vital component to building atmosphere and immersion and setting the tone of individual scenes or the game as a whole. The Halo games are an obvious example of this, but just think any scene of a game that stands out, or any game where it was able to really draw you in, and I can almost guarantee you the music and sounds that accompanied those parts played a vital role in in. It’s sad to see someone who did such good work get fired, and hopefully Martin’s record will get him involved a new project where he can put his skills to good use.

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