Microsoft lets "Halo"-maker Bungie go

The software company will retain a minority stake in the very lucrative game studio.

Published October 5, 2007 7:16PM (EDT)

A few-day-old rumor has been confirmed: Bungie Studios, the Microsoft subsidiary that produces the mega-selling "Halo" video game series, is going independent. Microsoft announced today that it would allow the company to go on its own but will retain an equity share in the firm; the press release seems to suggest that all "intellectual property" related to the "Halo" series will remain exclusive to Microsoft's game consoles. Other games, however, could go all over the place.

The motive for the move remains a bit murky. "Halo 3" just racked up $300 million in its first week of sales -- one of the best openings for any entertainment property of any kind. So why would MS let Bungie go?

Maybe because the Bungie guys begged for it, or maybe it guesses a multi-platform strategy might work even better -- or maybe both.

While leaving the specifics vague, Brian Jarrard, Bungie's franchising director, told Macworld that the company would not rule out making games for the Mac. "But sure, now that we're branching of and controlling our destiny, that puts us in a position where we could put ourselves back on the [Mac] platform definitively again," he said. (Back before Microsoft acquired it in 2000, Bungie made games for, among other platforms, the Mac.)

The Macworld interview also makes it plain that the split was more Bungie's idea than MS's. Jarrard said: "It's what needed to happen for our studio, for people that had been here so long to be in control of our future and our [Intellectual Property] again. It helps us all get inspired again, and reinvigorated."

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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