Marty O’Donnell is one of the most recognizable faces in the world of video game music, and for good reason. After all, he is the man that spearheaded some of the most memorable and iconic musical scores in all of video game history, thanks to his acclaimed work on Halo and Destiny for Bungie over the years.
Considering Marty O’Donnell’s superb talent and penchant for delivering quality, mind blowing music that makes the games he works on truly come to life, it came as a shock to the gaming world when O’Donnell was suddenly fired from Bungie in April of 2014. Since his abrupt termination, the details as to why exactly the Halo and Destiny composer was fired have been kept under wraps, but new court documents have helped shed some light on the situation.
The reason O’Donnell was fired from Bungie dates all the way back to E3 2013. O’Donnell had prepared some symphonic tunes for Destiny, even collaborating with Beatles legend Paul McCartney in the process, and collected the music in a work called Music of the Spheres. Music of the Spheres was meant to be the music for the Destiny franchise for the next decade, and O’Donnell was obviously very proud of his work.
So, when the gameplay reveal trailer for Destiny debuted at E3 2013, O’Donnell was understandably upset to find that publisher Activision had pulled his original music from the trailer in favor of their own tracks. O’Donnell went public with his grievances via Twitter, and caused a stir that upset the management staff at both Activision and Bungie. O’Donnell’s frustration then continued to mount when he learned that Music of the Spheres was not getting a standalone release, something that he had been pushing for.
O’Donnell continued to work on Destiny, but the writing was on the wall. His attitude about the whole experience seemingly had a detrimental impact on his work, and those that worked with him on the Destiny audio content began complaining. It was then that O’Donnell’s contract with Bungie was terminated, on April 11th, 2014, despite having been with the company since 1999.
In the wake of his firing, O’Donnell sued Bungie, and he just recently won the case, on top of a previous settlement for other issues surrounding his termination. In any case, O’Donnell should be happy to be able to put this messy situation behind him, and continue with his professional career. He’s already started a new game studio called Highwire Games along with other ex-Bungie employees, and while we have yet to see their first project, O’Donnell says that it will tell a personal story, with the aim of making players truly care about the characters.
For fans of Bungie’s work, O’Donnell’s departure was disappointing news for sure. In the end, it seems to have worked out for him though, and hopefully the game in development at Highwire Games delivers like O’Donnell’s previous work has.
Destiny is currently available for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. In the meantime, the first project from O’Donnell’s Highwire Games has yet to be revealed.