Bungie replaces marathon manager amid leadership change and fears of layoffs

Amid ongoing anxiety within Bungie following last year's layoffs, the studio is now preparing to make another change, this time to Marathon – its upcoming service game that aims to be the next step after Destiny.

According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Bungie is in the midst of a shift around its creative leadership at Marathon, including removing longtime Bungie designer Christopher Barrett from the role of game director. He will be replaced by former Valorant game director Joe Ziegler, IGN has learned He left Riot Games for Bungie In 2022.

IGN has reached out to Bungie for comment on whether or not Barrett will remain with the company. Bungie has not yet responded to IGN's request for comment, but shortly after we reached out, Ziegler confirmed his appointment as game director on X/Twitter.

“For the past nine months I have been working on Marathon as a game director,” he wrote. “We're still baking, but I'm excited to share more information with you about the game as we get closer and closer to bringing it to you all.”

While this is happening, sources tell IGN that Bungie is pumping resources into getting Marathon out the door. One source says the game's direction has changed somewhat under Ziegler's new leadership, including moving away from custom player characters in favor of a select group of heroes.

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Marathon about the article

While the upcoming Destiny 2 expansion The Final Shape is also being prioritized, there are growing concerns and rumors that layoffs will immediately follow its release. One person with knowledge of budgets at Bungie told me that “nothing adds up” and “something has to happen to limit costs unless the final skin does well to cover the gap and people can move on to marathoning it.”

Bungie has reportedly replaced Marathon director Christopher Barrett with Valorant's Joe Ziegler.

When Sony acquired Bungie, the studio brought with it a number of other incubation projects, including a A MOBA-like game codenamed Gummy Bears And a The new IP is known as Matter. According to sources, Matter was canceled back in 2020, but the team continued working on a similar project with a slightly different direction until it was also canceled in late 2022. Meanwhile, Gummy Bears is currently in a holding pattern due to the company's ongoing struggles.

Within the company, there are growing expectations that the company's senior leaders will leave in droves in the summer of 2026 when the final payments from Sony's acquisition of the company take effect. With this in mind, there's a strong push to get Marathon out the door before then, and let whoever takes the reins next (be it Sony or Bungie) worry about how it will continue.

Marathon and sprint

Bungie has found itself rocked by a number of major changes in recent years that have depressed morale at the Destiny studio and left its future uncertain. Sony officially acquired the studio in mid-2022, with the promise that it would largely retain a semblance of freedom as an independent subsidiary. While sources say this has largely remained true, Bungie has struggled to meet key financial goals, and Destiny 2 underperformed significantly last year.

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In October, Bungie laid off nearly 100 of its then 1,200 employees amid larger cost-cutting measures that pushed Marathon to 2025 and cut employee benefits, further hurting the internal mood. Notably, multiple sources at the time and since have shared that Sony largely left the studio to solve its own problems and was not responsible for the layoffs, with CEO Pete Parsons taking responsibility.

However, sources at the time also told IGN that when leaders were asked if they had considered taking pay cuts before making layoff decisions, one responded that Bungie was not “that kind of company.” Internally, the feeling is growing that the final format needs to be a success for Bungie to avoid further internal turmoil.

Neither Bungie nor Sony responded to IGN's request for comment.

Rebecca Valentine is a senior reporter at IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].

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