The studio that created the popular Halo video game franchise is leaving Microsoft (MSFT) to gain creative freedom, potentially delivering a blow to the software giant’s image among gamers.
Halo is the most popular software franchise for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console, and it achieved $300 million in sales in the week after Halo 3 was released on September 25. Because the game is exclusive to the Xbox platform, it helped boost hardware sales for Microsoft; the Xbox 360 also beat the Nintendo Wii in sales last week for the first time this year.
Microsoft confirmed the split
in a press release this morning
Rumors of a split between Microsoft and game studio Bungie had been circulating on gaming enthusiast sites for several days, after 8BitJoystick broke the story
on a Seattle Post Intelligencer blog
. The blog writer said he got this e-mail tip:
In one example that might illustrate the reason for tension between Microsoft and Bungie, screen shots
surfaced on the Internet this week
showing what appears to be an unreleased version of Halo developed for Nintendo’s popular DS handheld gaming system.
Some in the gaming community have speculated that Microsoft was unwilling to release the game and risk giving ammunition to a rival’s gaming platform.
With Bungie as a separate entity, it would have more power to decide how its future games are marketed and on what platforms, including those from Nintendo and Sony (SNE). Bungie was an independent studio until Microsoft bought it seven years ago for about $40 million. Before it was acquired by Microsoft, Bungie was known for creating games for several platforms; its Marathon game, a precursor to Halo, was popular on Apple’s Macintosh computers. For more details on the Bungie/Microsoft split,
see this Kotaku interview
The release from Microsoft: