Bungie-Microsoft Split Rumors Persist

By Chris Faylor, Oct 03, 2007 10:36am PDT Without any official denial or confirmation from Bungie or Microsoft, rumors continue to swirl that the studio behind Halo will, in some form, depart from Microsoft due to Microsoft's want of more Halo, lackluster profit sharing, and other differences.

As previously noted, Microsoft owns Bungie, so it is impossible that the developer would be able to split from Microsoft without Microsoft's desire to sell it. The latest round of industry gossip addresses this issue.

Shareholder Buyback?
According to a source quoted by Game Informer, Bungie shareholders supposedly brokered a deal allowing them to buy the Bungie name back from Microsoft as long as the corporation has "the right of first refusal" on all future Bungie titles.

If true, Bungie would have to pitch new titles to Microsoft before they approached any other publisher. Such a setup would guarantee Microsoft the first pick at potential blockbusters but would also allow the studio more freedom, including the option to develop on other platforms.

However, the notion of Bungie having shareholders struck some the wrong way, especially since Microsoft acquired complete ownership of the studio. For clarification, Shacknews inquired to a Microsoft representative, who responded with "we don't discuss financial terms."

The report also specifies that Microsoft would retain ownership of the Halo property--undoubtedly the rumor's most believable aspect.

More Possibilities
Other speculation has key staff leaving the studio and either forming a new company or joining an existing one, perhaps one founded by a former Bungie employee. Bungie founder and Halo creator Alexander Seropian went on to form Wideload Games. Bungie alum and Halo 2 online lead Max Hoberman presides over Certain Affinity, which recently developed the Blastacular Halo 2 map pack.

As both Microsoft and Bungie continue to dance around the rumor, and as Bungie employees are generally quick to comment or at least touch on breaking news, it is seeming more and more likely that something is indeed transpiring behind the scenes.

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  • "However, the notion of Bungie having shareholders struck some the wrong way, especially since Microsoft acquired complete ownership of the studio. For clarification, Shacknews inquired to a Microsoft representative, who responded with "we don't discuss financial terms."

    There could be several potential reasons for this that are compatible with even that part of the rumors being true:

    *They could be referring to ex-shareholders.
    *They could be referring to future shareholders of the new company.
    *There could have been some minority shareholders even after MS's buyout.
    *MS's buyout might technically have been orchestrated in such a way to leave shareholders still there.
    *The reports could have been mistaken in there use of terminology while still getting the name buyback correct, especially if there was a loss of info in the relaying of the news by the reporters, their sources might not have used the "shareholders" language.

    I don't know where the name buyback was first mentioned, in fact I have only seen it in one place, the Game Informer website, but that is probably because I have really being following this.

    But isn't Game Informer a pretty credible and realiable source ?

    They claim to have sources of their own, different from the ones of that blog that seemingly was the first to report on this whole thing.