Halo developer Bungie had made it quite clear in recent months that Halo: Reach would be the last game in the Halo franchise for the foreseeable future.
If you didn’t believe them… Well, now you have proof.
Bungie has agreed to give Activision-Blizzard exclusive publishing rights to all games the studio develops for the next ten years. Though the terms of the deal were not fully disclosed, The agreement seems to revolve around the establishment of a single AAA franchise, to be published across multiple platforms; “Activision will have exclusive, worldwide rights to publish and distribute all future Bungie games based on the new intellectual property on multiple platforms and device.” It was also made explicitly clear that the deal calls for a “partnership”, rather than a merger or aquisition: Bungie will remain completely independent and retain complete creative control of their projects. When asked why they chose to work with Activision, Bungie president Harold Ryan said that the studio was looking for a producer with “global reach” and experience publishing games on multiple platforms. If nothing else, Activision has both of those things in spades.
The question everyone’s asking now is; “What is the new IP”? No one knows, but according to Activision COO Thomas Tppl,”Bungie has been working on this project for awhile.” Bungie staff are keeping tight-lipped about everything not Halo: Reach related, but have indicated that the series will be something completely new (Sorry Marathon fans), it will be big and it may or may not be a shooter. When asked what genre this new series would fall into during an interview with Kotaku, Bungie Community Manager Brian Jerrard said; “Looking back on our pedigree we’ll definitely be building on the strengths that have helped Bungie to get where we are today.” Technically, that could mean a lot of things: Realistically, it means the game is going to be an FPS. Meanwhile, other rumors are already surfacing, such as the idea that the new series may be subscription-based, but both companies are keeping quiet about what’s in store.
On a different front, this news only strengthens recent the likelihood that Activision will seek to dissolve Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward, which has been the cause of series of problems for them in recent months. With a strong new franchise from Bungie, there seems little reason to keep the studio open, seeing as it is a shadow of what created the most-successful game of all time.
Games For Thought will keep you posted as details of the deal and the new franchise arise. Given that the series is already being developed, it’s totally possible that we get a little taste – or at least a name – during E3 this June.
UPDATE: Remember what I said about the possibility of getting more info about Bungie’s new series at E3? Well, apparently it ain’t gonna happen. Bungie community manager Brian Jerrard, speaking with Edge this time, says that there will be absolutely no new information about the project this year’s show. Jerrard emphasized the fact that Bungie is still working on Halo: Reach, which won’t actually be finished until this fall.