What can only be described as a complete shock, Activision has announced today that it has entered into a 10-year worldwide exclusive distribution deal with former Microsoft partner, Bungie. The agreement is geared to allow Bungie, the famed developer of the Halo and Myth series, to release its future intellectual properties "next big action game universe" around the world for multiple platforms.
What is important to note, in the wake of the Infinity Ward-Activision dispute, is that Bungie will remain an independent company and will own its intellectual property.
Bungie and Activision released the following statements regarding their new agreement:
"We chose to partner with Activision on our next IP because of their global reach, multi-platform experience and marketing expertise," said Harold Ryan, President of Bungie. "From working together over the past nine months on this agreement, it is clear that Activision supports our commitment to giving our fans the best possible gaming experiences."
"Bungie is one of the premier studios in our industry and we are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with their talented team over the next decade," stated Thomas Tippl, Chief Operating Officer of Activision Blizzard. "Bungie has developed some of the most compelling and successful games, multiplayer experiences and thriving fan communities, and this alliance underscores our long-standing commitment to foster the industry's best creative talent. Our unprecedented partnership with Bungie will enable us to broaden our pipeline of exciting new games as we continue to strengthen our industry position and pursue long-term growth opportunities."
For Activision, this partnership could help offset the loss of Infinity Ward. And on the bright side for gamers, PlayStation 3 owners will likely see future Bungie products on their platform.
What do you think of this new alliance?
[UPDATE 10:59 a.m.]
Microsoft has released the following statement regarding the deal:
Our partnership with Bungie as a first-party developer for Xbox 360 remains unchanged, and right now we’re deeply engaged with them on the development of 'Halo: Reach,' which is poised to be the biggest game of 2010.
[UPDATE #2 12:17 p.m.]
Bungie co-founder and Studio Creative Director, Jason Jones, will be heading up the new Bungie IP that will be exclusively distributed by Activision. Jones will be leading a team that is separate from that of the group working on Halo: Reach.
Congrats to Bungie. Marrying their creative minds and incredible talent to the power of PS3 will be like giving PS3 fans Halo on steroids.
Cue the fanboy flame war.
[UPDATE #3 12:48 p.m.]
In an interview with VG247, Brian Jarrard just confirmed that Halo: Reach will be the last Halo game developed by Bungie:
So, [Halo] Reach, for all intents and purposes, is definitely Bungie’s final Halo game. Right now our plan is that the majority of our team at the conclusion of Reach will roll right into production on our next big universe. We have Jason Jones and a lot of the original guys who were on the core Halo [inaudible] who have been working on bringing the framework and the bones of what we’re going to do next in anticipation of having to receive the full might of the studio.When Reach concludes, of course we’re still going to have some people, a chunk of the team that’s going to be focused on supporting Reach and supporting that community. We definitely have a relationship there. In some degrees we owe it to our fans, and that’s Bungie’s way, to make sure that we do right by our game and by our fans. So, if you like [inaudible] we’ll start have an attachment to Halo: Reach, but we definitely won’t be producing any more Halo projects beyond Reach.
Still unclear is who will take over the Halo franchise for Microsoft.