Sony says a third of Bungie’s $3.6 billion deal is for talent retention

In a nutshell: Just a few days ago, Sony announced that it was buying former Halo studio Bungie for a steep $3.6 billion. It seemed like a somewhat high price for a studio that currently owns only one active franchise, Destiny 2. However, about one-third of that price is spent on talent retention.

According to a recent earnings report, Sony designed $1.2 billion to acquire Bungie for an employee retention program.

“Approximately one-third of the acquisition cost of $3.6 billion consists primarily of deferred payments to employee shareholders subject to continued employment and other incentives,” one slide from yesterday’s presentation reads. “These amounts will be paid over several years after the closing date and will be treated as an expense for accounting purposes.”

Bungie currently employs approximately 900 developers. While Sony will stretch out the incentives over many years, it added that it will spend about two-thirds, or $800 million, over the first two years. That comes out to about $67 million a month, which Sony will pay out in retention bonuses. Another $400 million will be spread over several years after that.

Depletion is expected after corporate takeovers. When new management comes in and changes things, some employees don’t like the way the new company works and start looking for work elsewhere. Sometimes the acquiring company deliberately cuts staff. In this case, Sony wants to retain experienced Destiny 2 developers to continue creating content effectively, but its plans for the studio go beyond the current beloved franchise.

During the presentation, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki explained that Bungie has at least one more project in the works. He also said that Sony plans to use the expertise of Bungie employees to help develop at least 10 live service games by March 2026.

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