Today Microsoft announced that Bungie Studios, the developer of the Halo games, will once again become an independent company. Microsoft will still own part of Bungie, and will continue the long-standing publishing agreement between the two for games developed by Bungie. From the Inside Bungie blog:
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.
It sounds like everyone is happy with this arrangement. Both MS and Bungie seem pretty adamant that nothing will change, and I don’t see much reason to doubt them. I would assume that Microsoft will make slightly less money on future Bungie games, but I think they can live with that as long as the studio continues to pump out winners.
This quote from the Bungie press release made me laugh:
“Working with Microsoft was great for us, it allowed us to grow as a team and make the ambitious, blockbuster games we all wanted to work on. And they will continue to be a great partner. But Bungie is like a shark. We have to keep moving to survive. We have to continually test ourselves, or we might as well be dolphins. Or manatees,” said Jason Jones, Bungie founder and partner.
Heh, well we can’t have them turning into manatees!
Mary Jo Foley has a good post up with five reasons why the split is a smart move for Microsoft. Her fifth point is the most important, I think:
5. Quasi-independent subsidiaries come up with more interesting ideas. As it has done with Xbox and Zune, Microsoft no longer believes innovation only happens when a unit is physically and psychically locked inside the Redmond headquarters.
I hope that shift in thinking really is happening inside Microsoft. For instance, I’m sure the new Vancouver dev centre will do some great things if they aren’t forced to go through Redmond for everything.
For lots more on this story, check out Techmeme.