Court ruling reveals more details about death threats against Destiny 2 developers

Destiny 2
(Image credit: Bungie)

Bungie community manager dmg04 said in July that Destiny 2 developers had cut back on their interactions with fans because of harassment and "real threats" aimed at employees at the studio. A ruling issued in June by the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, Canada reveals the extent and seriousness of threats faced by Bungie employees, and how they go far beyond simple trash talk and "jokes."

The June 15 ruling ordering a company called TextNow to provide the real name of a user who had issued threats against Bungie includes disturbing new details on the nature of the harassment received by Bungie, which began earlier in June after Bungie employees tweeted an ad for Destiny 2 featuring Twitch streamer Uhmaayyze. 

"Shortly after [the Bungie tweet], several employees of Bungie began receiving voicemails and text messages on personal, unpublished telephone numbers repeatedly using the racial slur referred to colloquially as the 'N-word'," Superior Court Justice Fred Myers wrote. "That night a person who called himself 'Brian' left a voicemail on the personal telephone line of the employee who posted the ads. Brian referred to the employee by name and requested that Destiny 2 provide a scene or a downloadable piece of the game (DLC) for 'N-word killing.'

"A few minutes later he called back and identified himself as a member of a far-right-wing social network known to publish material that is censored from mainstream social media. He repeated the request for an 'N-word killing'; DLC to be added to Destiny 2."

Another employee was also subjected to multiple voicemail messages from the same number, containing homophobic and racist slurs.

That's horrific in its own right, but the personal threats against the Bungie employee in question also grew more overt. A person using the same telephone number as the one used to issue the torrent of threats and abuse had a pizza delivered to the employee's house, indicating that they knew where the employee and his partner lived, and left a voicemail telling them to "enjoy your pizza." 

The ruling also describes the actions of Twitter user inkcel, the subject of a Bungie lawsuit filed in July, who tweeted a picture of a Bungie employee's identification and said the employee "is not safe." Inkcel had also tweeted that he'd moved to live within 30 minutes of a Destiny 2 developer, something Bungie noted in its lawsuit.

(Image credit: Inkcel (via Twitter))

The judge further took note of the Twitter handle's similarity to "incel," which he described as "a violent misogynist ideology." The similarity between the terms "makes the threats more frightening," the judge said: He did not refer to it specifically, but the city of Waterloo, where TextNow is based, is less than two hours from Toronto, where a self-described incel murdered 10 people in a 2018 van attack.

Judge Myers said in his decision that he didn't know what Bungie was going to do with the alleged perpetrator's real name, but indicated that he didn't care, either. 

"Whether they sue in the US or just give the name to the police, I am satisfied that the exceptional equitable remedy ought to be available to identify people who harass others, with base racism, who dox, abuse personal information, and make overt threats of physical harm and death," Myers wrote. "It makes no difference that the wrongdoer target is not in Ontario or that proceedings will not be brought here."

The ruling in favor of Bungie was issued in June but wasn't released until a month later because of "the serious nature of the allegations of danger," according to a report by The Record

Bungie filed a lawsuit against inkcel on July 15, alleging breach of contract, fraud, copyright infringement, and other charges, and is also seeking a permanent injunction against "harassing, stalking, or otherwise engaging in unwanted or unsolicited contact with Bungie." Bungie general counsel Don McGowan also recently indicated that the studio will continue to pursue legal action against abusive players, saying "removing harassment and abuse from our community is not only the right thing to do, it is also good business."

Correction and update: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that inkcel was responsible for making homophobic and racist slurs and sending a pizza order to a Destiny 2 developer's home. The article has been updated to indicate that these were separate incidents with a different person accused. Additionally, after this article was published, inkcel was identified as a minor, and the court sealed documents which included their full name. We have also chosen to remove their name from this article.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.