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Halo composer Marty O'Donnell wins Bungie legal battle

Halo and Destiny composer Marty O'Donnell has won his case against former employer Bungie, after claiming that the developer fired him without cause in April 2014.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

September 7, 2015

2 Min Read

Halo and Destiny composer Marty O'Donnell has won his case against former employer Bungie, after claiming that the developer fired him "without cause" in April 2014

As reported by Venturebeat's Dean Takahashi, a court-appointed arbitrator ruled in favour of O'Donnell on September 4, following through on a preliminary ruling by allowing the composer to recover 192,188 shares of vested Bungie stock. 

The court also ruled that Bungie must pay O'Donnell three times as part of its "profit participation plan". Although it's unclear just how much O'Donnell will net as a result of this particular ruling, court documents reveal the first payment to be worth $142,500. 

As part of the settlement, O'Donnell will also give up the rights to Destiny soundtrack album, Music of the Spheres. 

This isn't the first time O'Donnell has taken the Halo creator to court, with the composer recently accepting an offer of $100,000 to settle his lawsuit against Bungie president Harold Ryan over unpaid benefits. 

Despite Ryan's insistence that O'Donnell and the team had parted "as friends", the final ruling has revealed that the Destiny composer became increasingly frustrated by Activision's lack of interest in his Music of the Spheres project - a standalone Destiny soundtrack that was due to release ahead of the game. 

According to the ruling, O'Donnell quickly became disillusioned with Activision's approach to development, with the situation coming to a head when the Call of Duty publisher replaced the composer's music in the Destiny E3 2013 reveal trailer with its own. 

It was an unexpected move that angered O'Donnell, prompting him to rebel against the company in an attempt to "preserve Bungie's creative process, artistic integrity, and reputation."

O'Donnell's continued resistance eventually led to his dismissal, with Ryan himself proposing that the board terminate his contract. 

Now that the dust has settled, the composer will finally be able to turn his attention to Highwire Games, the Seattle-based studio he founded alongside Jaime Griesemer and Jared Noftle.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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