Last week, the video game world was stunned as video game developer Bungie successfully split from publishing giant Activision, ending a long and arduous partnership in the process. Along with becoming independent once again, Bungie also obtained all the rights to the Destiny franchise, including the rights to publish the game for any current and future endeavors. The announcement came seemingly out of nowhere, and while some people were absolutely excited about this, some investors had some suspicions that foul play was involved.
Over the weekend, a press release was sent out by the law firm, Pomerantz LLP, which announced that they would be investigating Activision Blizzard as a whole on behalf of some of the investors of the company. The press release, which can be viewed here, states that “The investigation concerns whether Activision and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.” The release goes onto say that on the same day as the Bungie split, Activision Blizzards stock fell drastically, as low as 10% from its original market value.
While they don’t directly say that split is the main reason for the investigation, it is heavily implied that it is a major factor. A potential reason that investors would want an investigation like this is that they may not have been given all of the facts before the company makes a move that would greatly affect their stock value. This is also known as Stock Fraud, an illegal act where investors sell or buy stock based on falsehoods which results in a loss of money. There was a similar situation last year when Starbreeze Studios was under suspicion of Insider Trading, and subsequently had their offices raided, which resulted in at least one person being arrested.
It’s important to note that this does not confirm that Activision Blizzard engaged in illegal activities. Pomerantz LLP is only investigating the company for committing fraud at one point or another, and ensuring that the Bungie split was in fact lawful. The fact that this investigation is even happening at all is not a good sign. Given that the split was so sudden, as well as the stock drop being on the same day, it appears that not everyone was made aware of what was happening. However, this is all based on conjecture, as the actual findings of the investigation will show if the company did in fact engage in fraud. We’ll be keeping our eyes on this story as it develops, and making sure that everyone stays updated once the findings are made public.