Bungie 'fires' Halo games composer Marty O'Donnell

Halo Image copyright Bungie
Image caption Marty O'Donnell's Halo music has been released as standalone audio CDs

The composer of the original Halo soundtracks says he has been fired from his job at the video games' creator.

Marty O'Donnell revealed the news in a tweet: "I'm saddened to say that Bungie's board of directors terminated me without cause on April 11, 2014."

Bungie has confirmed the move but suggested they remained "friends".

Mr O'Donnell had been working on music for the firm's forthcoming title Destiny in collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney.

In an interview about the tie-up for Edge magazine last year, Mr O'Donnell commented: "It's hard for me - and some of the guys get impatient about it, like 'Hey Marty, quick just write an iconic theme and show it to us'.

"But that's not what I did with Halo. I like to write music... [and] we have this really great start on many, many pieces of music that all seem to work together well."

A spokesman for Sir Paul said he was "unable to pass comment".

Huge expectations

Marty O'Donnell's relationship with Bungie stretches back to the 1990s when he worked on its Myth series.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Mr O'Donnell revealed that he had left Bungie via Twitter

However, he first came to prominence in 1999 when the developer unveiled its first trailer for Halo at the MacWorld convention, which prominently featured Mr O'Donnell's stirring theme.

The composer subsequently worked on Halo's sequels up until Halo: Reach. He was not involved in Halo 4, which was developed by a different studio.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Paul McCartney had been working with Mr O'Donnell on the music for Destiny

Since 2011 Mr O'Donnell has been working on Destiny, a role-playing, first-person shooter that will be Bungie's first title since ending a tie-up with Microsoft. Part of the score was recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios.

The game is due to be released by Activision in September.

The publisher's chief executive, Bobby Kotick, has described the title as the first in "a major new potential franchise".

"We expect that Destiny will become the best-selling new video game IP [intellectual property] in history," he told bank analysts last year.

It is unclear what effect Mr O'Donnell's departure will have on the game or its subsequent add-on downloadable content (DLC).

"For more than a decade, Marty O'Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans," wrote Bungie's community manager David Dague on its site.

"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 endeavours."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption More than 11 million copies of Halo 3 were sold after its release in 2007

'Best assets'

The news prompted a backlash from visitors to Bungie's site.

"Bungie just lost half of its magic," wrote one, nicknamed Apotheosis.

"You just fired one of your best assets. What in the world is wrong with you?" asked Avenger I32.

But others were more measured in their responses.

"It is sad to see someone so great at what they do leave but let's not hate on Bungie for doing so. They must have a good reason," wrote Kanzanian 117.

Although the details surrounding Mr O'Donnell's departure may never be made public, one games industry watcher said that rival developers would be keen to employ him.

"Halo defined a whole era of video games when the first Xbox came out, and when people hear its iconic theme they have an emotional connection to the series and a time in their lives," said Keza MacDonald, UK editor of the news site Kotaku.

"You can see a similar effect with Nintendo's Koji Kondo and his music for Mario and Legend of Zelda.

"But it's relatively rare, and people will be very interested to see what Marty O'Donnell does next, especially if it's for a rival games company."

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