Confirming a flurry of rumors last week, Bungie and Microsoft have confirmed that they have split and that the former is now an independently owned studio rather than a Microsoft entity. Bungie was originally founded in 1991 as a Mac-oriented developer and acquired by Microsoft back in 2000 when Halo was first shown to the gaming public.
Microsoft will retain both a minority equity interest in the studio as well as control of the Halo franchise; it also has publishing rights to further Bungie products. However, the studio will retain ownership of any new IPs it creates; it also has the ability to develop non-Halo titles.
Shane Kim, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, said, “While we are supporting Bungie’s desire to return to its independent roots, we will continue to invest in our ‘Halo’ entertainment property with Bungie and other partners, such as Peter Jackson, on a new interactive series set in the ‘Halo’ universe. We look forward to great success with Bungie as our long-term relationship continues to evolve through ‘Halo’-related titles and new IP created by Bungie.”
Meanwhile, it is not sure what Bungie is up to right now. The company recently stated that it is working on post-launch Halo 3 content and will continue to support the game accordingly. “This exciting evolution of our relationship with Microsoft will enable us to expand both creatively and organizationally in our mission to create world-class games,” said Bungie studio head Harold Ryan. “We will continue to develop with our primary focus on Microsoft platforms; we greatly value our mutually prosperous relationship with our publisher, Microsoft Game Studios; and we look forward to continuing that affiliation through ‘Halo’ and beyond.”