Bungie Split Confirmed

halo3bungie.JPGIt's official: Microsoft has just announced that Bungie Studios will be embarking "on a path to become an independent company.

According to Bungie, the developer will become an independent company, but will retain a long-term publishing agreement with Microsoft Game Studios for future Halo titles.

Bungie has long been built on creativity, originality and the freedom to pursue ideas. Microsoft agreed, and rather than stifle our imagination, they decided it was in both our best interests to unleash it. We'll continue to make Xbox 360 games, and we'll continue to make amazing games for MGS. In that regard, nothing has changed. All that has changed is that now Bungie Studios is once again, the property of the folks of Bungie Studios. Microsoft is and will continue to be, a brilliant, inventive and creatively collaborative publishing partner. Practically speaking, nothing has changed and you guys won't see much, if any difference, for a while unless you come to work for us, that is - we're hiring at http://www.bungie.net/inside/jobs.aspx.

Microsoft goes on to say equally innocuous stuff.

"Our collaboration with Bungie has resulted in 'Halo' becoming an enduring mainstream hit," said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. "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."

But what no one touches on or even looks in the direction of is why this is happening. What exactly happened that convinced Microsoft to "unleash" Bungie. I do find it interesting that Bungie uses the whole leash analogy and I suspect that perhaps the key to the whole story is wrapped up in that single word.

Hit the jump for the Msoft press release and stick around for more details when I can scrape them up.

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 5, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. today announced a plan for Bungie Studios, the developers of the "Halo®" franchise, to embark on a path to become an independent company. Microsoft will retain an equity interest in Bungie, at the same time continuing its long-standing publishing agreement between Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie for the Microsoft-owned "Halo" intellectual property as well as other future properties developed by Bungie.

The critically acclaimed Xbox 360®-exclusive "Halo 3" achieved $300 million in global sales in its first week. Released on Tuesday, Sept. 25, "Halo 3" is the fastest-selling video game ever and already one of the most successful entertainment properties in history.

"Our collaboration with Bungie has resulted in 'Halo' becoming an enduring mainstream hit," said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. "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."

"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 Harold Ryan, studio head for Bungie. "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."

Bungie Studios will remain in its current location in Kirkland, Wash.

About Bungie Studios

Bungie Studios was founded in 1991 with two goals: to develop games that combine brilliant technology, beautiful art, intelligent stories and deep gameplay, and then sell enough of those games to achieve its real goal of total world domination. Over the past 10 years it has produced games such as the "Marathon" trilogy and the first two "Myth" games, hailed as classics by critics and gamers around the world. Bungie's "Halo" franchise is an international award-winning action title that has grown into a global entertainment phenomenon, selling more than 14.8 million units worldwide, logging nearly 1 billion hours of multiplayer action on Xbox LIVE®, and spawning action figures, books, a graphic novel, apparel and more. Bungie released "Halo 3" on Sept. 25, 2007 to universal critical acclaim, and first day US sales of over $170 million, making it the biggest opening day in entertainment history. More information on Bungie can be found at http://www.bungie.net.

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game systems, the Windows® operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows (http://www.microsoft.com/games), including such franchises as "Age of Empires®," "Flight Simulator" and "Zoo Tycoon®"; Xbox and Xbox 360 (http://www.xbox.com), including such games as "Gears of War" and franchises such as "Halo," "Fable®," "Project Gotham Racing®" and "Forza Motorsport®"; and MSN® Games (http://www.games.msn.com), the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as "Bejeweled" and "Hexic®


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