Most Bungiefen have been eagerly awaiting official news for the company's next game, referred to internally as Tiger and externally as Destiny, have so far been treated only to long-winded legal contracts and some leaked treatments and concept art. Bungie has started up their Community Theatre series of short videos on YouTube featuring Deej and Raspy (a stuffed tiger, get it?) and promising a reveal of the company's new game within a few weeks.
Now, however, Eurogamer is reporting that the transcript of Activision's yearly "money meeting" posted at investment site Seeking Alpha casts doubt on what the leaked contract revealed-- which was a target for the franchise's first release in Fall 2013.
"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."
--Activision's chief financial officer Dennis Durkin
Eurogamer speculates that had Destiny still been on the release slate for 2013, it would certainly have been mentioned.
This is what Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg did have to say about Destiny:
"Development also continues on our new ground-breaking project with Bungie. Bungie defined the action-shooter category with Halo, and we feel this project will once again deliver genre-defining innovation.
"While we don't have a launch date to announce today, we expect to deliver incredible games with unprecedented marketing support for new IP. We look forward to sharing more information on this title in the near future."
So there it is. Activision is not talking publicly about making money on Bungie this year-- only spending it.
Some more specifics:
And also, as I mentioned, our outlook does not include the release of the Bungie game or Call of Duty Online in China, although, we still incur costs throughout the year on these projects. In total, we expect the year-over-year impact of all these items will be more than $0.10.
Of course it's always better to beat estimates than meet them; so what Activision is saying here is that they aren't expecting to make money on Destiny this year, but they will be spending it. It's worth noting here that they are excepting the launch of the CoD franchise in China from the revenue projections as well, even though Kotaku reported last month that CoD was in Alpha testing in China and I really think it doesn't take a whole year to alpha test a version of a game you've already made for a new market.
Of course, those optimistic for a release this year-- some even hoping for an announcement this month, ahead of next months' GDC-- may wish to interpret this as a respect for Bungie's silence, not wishing to steal the company's thunder, confident that a few weeks lag between their money meeting and a release schedule won't harm them with investors too much, especially where earning less money than expected is punished even when you've made a lot, and making more than is expected is punished never.
Perhaps even the knowledge that this transcript was going to be made widely available kept Activision from talking too much about Bungie. Call of Duty is referred to in the transcript 27 times; Bungie 10 times, World of Warcraft 8 times, and StarCraft 6 times. The word "Destiny" appears... nowhere. Perhaps Activision just felt that nothing not already made public should be revealed.
Or maybe Bungie's Destiny doesn't come until next year. Don't call it a delay, though-- you can't delay something you've never announced, even if everyone knows what it is, what it's called, and what platforms you're making it for.