Original Halo music composer Marty O'Donnell fired by Bungie

The Halo series of sci-fi first person shooter games helped to boost the sales of Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles. Part of the franchise's success is due to the amazing soundtracks created by Marty O'Donnell, who composed music that included gregorian chants that became the signature sound for the Halo series.

Now Bungie and O'Donnell have parted ways, and it's apparently wasn't a pleasant experience on one side. Today, O'Donnell used his Twitter feed to post the following message:

The message was quickly followed up by Bungie in a statement on its website, which seemed far more positive, but also still vague as to the exact circumstances:

For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans. Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future. We wish him luck in all his future endeavors.

O'Donnell composed the soundtracks to two of Bungie's earlier games, Oni and Myth, before working on the first Halo title, which was released in 2001 as an Xbox launch title for Microsoft. The soundtrack was critically acclaimed and O'Donnell continued to create music for all of the other Halo games developed by Bungie. He also helped with sound design and directed the voice talent for the Halo series.

O'Donnell was working on the soundtrack for Bungie's next game, Destiny, which is due for release later this year. In 2012, before Destiny was officially announced, it was revealed that Paul McCartney was working with O'Donnell on the game's soundtrack in some fashion. It's currently unknown how much of O'Donnell's work on Destiny will be put in the final game.

Of course, O'Donnell's departure from Bungie does open up the possibility that he might work with Microsoft on the music for the next original Halo game made for the Xbox One. Halo 4, the first non-Bungie FPS game in the series, was released in 2012 for the Xbox 360 but contained music composed by Neil Davidge. You can bet that many Halo fans would love to hear O'Donnell's work in the next game in the series.

Source: Marty O'Donnell on Twitter and Bungie | Image via Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox reportedly files for liquidation

Next Story

TrueCrypt audit reveals vulnerabilities but no backdoors

32 Comments

View more comments

Okay. So I can't give out too much detail here, but I will let you know what I know. Marty was a contracted employee, he didn't just get a fee for each game he produced. Marty had received a significant raise in the last few years, but was now asking for another. This created tension between him and the board (some of whom already felt he was overpaid). A verbal argument ensued recently between Marty and a member of the board. Shortly there after he was let go. So there was certainly 'cause' but one that a lot of us felt could be worked through. But money talks. The board feels they can get someone for cheaper, and without the drama, that will have a better ROI.

So basically it seems that tensions rose to a breaking point, one the board felt they couldn't work past, or didn't want to deal with, so they let Marty go. I'm not saying it was right (I don't think it was), but that is the situation.

From Reddit by a Bungie employee. Really sad news.
For some reason I think 343 should hire him now.

Niekess said,

From Reddit by a Bungie employee. Really sad news.
For some reason I think 343 should hire him now.

That would've been exactly my guess.

I don't know if a verbal argument can really be grounds for dismissal, unless he somehow told everyone to go F themselves and said he wanted out, but stranger things have happened. Hope 343i pick him up though, if only for additional sound support at first.

Companies don't need grounds for dismissal. Those working papers that you sign when you start a new job basically say they can fire you at any time at their discretion. What they CAN'T do is fire you because of discriminatory reasons. If what this Reddit user said is true, getting fired over a salary dispute is pretty normal.

@spacer, that actually depends on your state. Here in Tennessee, what you said is very much true, as we're an At Will state. I can leave whenever, for no reason, as well as be terminated whenever, for no reason. Unless all the states are At Will, but then, why would we all have to sign them?

I guess that's true. I've only ever worked in CT where that is definitely the case. I just assumed the papers you sign free you of any legal entitlement if you are fired for "no reason".

Wanted to unlike my like to your comment spacer, because i pressed the button by accident heh heh...anyway, of course companies need cause for dismissal, even if it something like downsizing. People usually fail to understand that about labor laws, and therefore never take action, so companies keep doing it. An employer can't just wake up one morning and say "go home". It's your livelihood and the law recognizes this, even if it's not easy to enforce.

In this case, Marty as the employee is the disadvantaged party. Companies invariably have more power and resources than a single employee, and cannot just do whatever they want. Just like a landlord can't evict a tenant for no reason.

I am leaning towards not getting Destiny over this...Marty's music defined Halo and made Bungie tons of money. Unless he was asking to be crowned Emperor of All Things Musical and henceforth be paid 50% of all Bungie revenue, then an argument over him wanting more money is totally legit and no reason to offend such a long time and productive team member.

Unts, unts, unts, whoop, whoop, whoop, unts, unts, unts. Seriously though, I don't expect much from Destiny's soundtrack now with him gone, he truly adds an emotion to the tracks he produces.

Thief000 said,
Unts, unts, unts, whoop, whoop, whoop, unts, unts, unts. Seriously though, I don't expect much from Destiny's soundtrack now with him gone, he truly adds an emotion to the tracks he produces.

I think that's a bit silly. It's not like he is the only musician who can write great music. I am sure they will hire someone more than capable.

Of course people will still auto hate it because they know it's not "Marty".

No, of course not. I actually like Neil Davidge's fresh input on Halo 4 quite a lot too for example, but your last phrase nails the sentiment it will very likely receive.

I don't think he should go back to Halo. It is a new story arch and the new music fits it better. However yeah, hire the guy for MSFT studios since there are other many games he could help. Gears of War being one of them.

neonspark said,
I don't think he should go back to Halo. It is a new story arch and the new music fits it better. However yeah, hire the guy for MSFT studios since there are other many games he could help. Gears of War being one of them.

He has already said in the past he doesn't want to work on Halo anymore so it's doubtful he'll go back. The man is more than talented, he'll have lots of options open to him - he doesn't need Halo.

Bad move on Bungie's part. The music from the original Halos was genre-defining in my opinion. Destiny is my highest anticipated game at the moment, so this a huge disappointment.

This is very sad news. His past work on the Halo series is some of the most iconic music in video games and really made them stand out and memorable. If I heard any song from Halo, Halo 2 or Halo 3 I could easily place it to the level it was used in.

They need someone comparable to Marty, the guy who did Mass Effect's 3 sound score is pretty good. He also composed the score for Requiem of a Dream. I'm sad to see him leave but maybe it was 'Destiny' for him to stick with Halo.

It is doubtful 343 want to hire him - to wit they passed on him for Halo 4 if i'm not mistaken. Maybe he is a troublemaker, who knows, from interviews he seems like a nice guy and the music speaks for his talent, clearly. It's not auto hate Lampo, it's compassion. Put yourself in his shoes, how would you feel? I can relate, and it bothers me when working people are treated like this by bean counters. Thus my hesitation at purchasing Destiny come Sept.

Commenting is disabled on this article.