Earlier this morning, Halo composer Marty O'Donnell announced via Twitter that he had been let go from the developer as of April 11, 2014 -- last Friday.
"I'm saddened to say that Bungie's board of directors terminated me without cause on April 11, 2014," he said, giving no further explanation.
Bungie subsequently followed up with a rather brief statement regarding O'Donnell's departure, which can be found here.
"There are those who said this day would never come," reads the post by community manager David "DeeJ" Dague. "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."
Neither O'Donnell nor Bungie have commented on the reasons for the composer's departure, but given the tone of O'Donnell's tweet and the brevity of Bungie's blog post, many are speculating that the split was not altogether amicable.
Note that O'Donnell's use of "without cause" in his tweet doesn't necessarily mean he's blameless in this situation. "Termination without cause" is a legal business term that refers to a contractual right for employers to fire an employee without giving a reason or offering an appeals process. Contrast with the concept of "termination with cause" or "for cause," which refers to an employee failing to live up to their contractual obligations, or perhaps doing something that adversely affects the business. In this instance, O'Donnell's termination without cause simply means that he has been let go from the company, is unable to appeal the decision and, for the moment anyway, a reason for his departure won't be forthcoming.
O'Donnell's work for Bungie over the years included contract work on the original Halo, Oni and Myth before coming on board as the company's in-house composer for the rest of the Halo series, on which he also worked in voice talent direction and sound design. He often worked alongside Bungie's audio lead Mike Salvatori and indeed was working with him on Bungie's upcoming new shooter Destiny when he was terminated -- a project with which ex-Beatle Paul McCartney was also involved.
This story will doubtless develop further as more information comes to light over the next few days. In the meantime, the Halo team at 343 Industries is probably frantically making a few phone calls right now.