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Fired Destiny, Halo composer wins legal battle against Bungie

by Ron Duwell | September 8, 2015September 8, 2015 8:40 am PDT

Martin O'Donnell Paul McCartney

Martin O’Donnell, the composer behind the unmistakable music in Halo and Destiny, has emerged victorious in a long legal battle with his former employer, Bungie. O’Donnell was unceremoniously let go from the company back in April 2014, and he filed suit for wrongful loss of employment and “unused vacation, paid time off, sabbatical time and other benefits.”

An arbitrator appointed by the court has ordered Bungie to restore O’Donnell’s stock in the company, landing him roughly $142,500 from profits for work he did in 2014 before he was fired. On a separate issue, O’Donnell also settled with Bungie for $95,000 for unpaid overtime wages and other compensation.

The lawsuit also opens up the reason O’Donnell was fired in clear view of the public. The first signs of trouble were when O’Donnell’s and Paul McCartney’s suite for the debut trailer was replaced with one that Activision had composed in secret. Bungie disagreed with the situation, but O’Donnell’s trust began to dwindle in his home studio. He began to act out at press conferences, speaking up for “creative process, artistic integrity, and reputation, keeping faith with fans, and protecting Bungie and its intellectual property from Activision’s encroachment into artistic decisions” as written in the court filings.

Bungie saw this as insubordination, and his actions “hurt the Bungie team, hurt the game, drove a negative online discussion, and violated CEO Harold Ryan’s instructions,” and had its board fire him.

VentureBeat has a much more detailed recounting of the court’s filings and decisions. As for O’Donnell, his name hasn’t turned up in any projects yet, but he has founded a new game development studio called Highwire Games.

VentureBeat Polygon

Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...