The end of 2013 is an amorphous no man’s land for the video game industry at this point. Retailers, analysts, and game developers are collectively bursting at the seams waiting to discuss plans for the next round of consoles, from Microsoft’s Xbox 720 to Sony’s PlayStation 4 and even on to Valve’s myriad Steam Box partners, but no one’s said what people will actually be playing on these boxes when fall rolls around. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is due in August, and Grand Theft Auto V is coming out this September – but both are walking onto an empty battlefield. Even games that were at one time expected to march in time for Christmas 2013 are staying out of the trenches. Bungie’s Destiny, a new massively multiplayer online shooter developed for Activision, may not even come out this year after all.
Activision CFO Dennis Durkin said during a company conference call discussing its quarterly earnings, the coming fiscal year, and its investments in the company’s future. Amongst those is Bungie’s new series.
“Activision Publishing will continue to invest in Call of Duty and Skylanders, along with Bungie’s new universe and Call of Duty Online for China,” said Durkin, “Each of which is being developed with quality and innovations that has the potential to redefine their respective categories for the future, and we hope will add value for our shareholders in future years.”
Activision’s contract with Bungie, leaked in 2012 during the publisher’s court case with former Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason West, said that Destiny is a trilogy of games bolstered by annual expansions. Durkin’s statement that the property is an investment in the company’s future isn’t too revealing. What is revealing is Durkin’s admittance that Destiny is not included in Activision’s earnings forecast for the calendar year.
“[Our] product lineup is expected to be anchored by 4 of our top franchises: Call of Duty, Skylanders, World of Warcraft and Starcraft,” explains Durkin, “It will also be a year of significant continued investment in several new properties with long-term potential that are not factored into our 2013 financial outlook, including Activision Publishing’s new Bungie universe, Call of Duty Online for China and the new Blizzard MMO.”
“We don’t have any announcements at this time on our timing on Bungie,” followed up CEO of Publishing Eric Hirshberg, “We really look forward to sharing it with you just as soon as we are ready.”
With the first entry of Destiny pushed beyond 2013, it’s doubtful that Bungie is still developing the first game for Xbox 360 as laid out in the contract, and instead is looking more and more like a next gen title.
Fans shouldn’t worry too much about the delay. Perhaps this just means Paul McCartney isn’t done writing music for the game.