Poor Destiny Reviews May Have Cost Bungie a $2.5 Million Bonus
It’s been reported in the past that developers have big bonuses tied to slightly arbitrary metrics like aggregated review scores. Fallout: New Vegas was infamous for Obsidian falling 1% short of its bonus goal on Metacritic.
Now, one of 2014’s most anticipated games and the new record holder for number of pre-orders for a new IP will fall afoul of its own review score goal. Destiny might have made a reported $500 million for Activision but Bungie won’t be picking up a reported $2.5 million bonus for scoring a 90% aggregated review score.
The folks over at Kotaku found a bit of information regarding Activision’s deal with Bungie for Destiny. The original deal was made public in 2012 as part of legal action involving Activision and Call of Duty creators Vince Zampella and Jason West. Coincidentally, the pair went on to found Respawn Entertainment which made this year’s other most anticipated game, Titanfall.
The agreement contained this clause related to a performance bonus for Destiny:
“Activision shall pay to Licensor a quality bonus (the “Quality Bonus”) in the amount of Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($2,500,000) should Destiny Game #1 achieve a rating of at least 90 as determined by gamerankings.com (or equivalent reputable services if gamerankings.com is no longer in sen/ice) as of thirty (30) days following the commercial release of Destiny Game #1 on Xbox 360.”
According to Jason Schreier, Bungie’s contract with Activision for Destiny has changed since the 2010 agreement that was made public as part of the proceedings with Zampella and West. Activision didn’t comment to Kotaku regarding the contract and the Destiny bonus. It’s entirely possible that this clause has been modified since the original agreement. That could be a good thing or a bad thing for Bungie depending on the change in size of the bonus.
Interestingly, Kotaku hasn’t issued its review of Destiny. Schreier says that it’s his belief that issuing a review this week might be too early. Some reviews were written within 48 hours of release which wouldn’t be too early for most shooters but considering that this is pretty close to an MMO, it might be a bit fast. Looking back at Guild Wars 2’s reviews, exceedingly few were posted within a week of release. Most were posted after a week-and-a-half or two weeks. Fair or not, Destiny will live and die on reviews written in seven days or less.