Well, call us all fools for predicting the doom of Activision-Blizzard with their recent fumble of Infinity Ward. You have to give the higher brass some credit, they did not panic – they had a literal ace in their back pocket.
Activision-Blizzard, publishing giant, and Bungie, former first party wonder for Microsoft, has just announced a 10-year agreement over a new, multiplatform, intellectual property (IP). The courtship was 9 months in the making; however rumors suggest that the new IP has been in development longer than that.
This is a partnership than Bungie could have “only dreamed of 10 years ago”. Ouch, Microsoft must have loved that comment. Fanboys, do not panic, most of the important players for the Halo franchise has moved on to Microsoft’s 343 Studios. Halo Wars is a good example of another studio, with Microsoft’s oversight, can create solid games in the universe. At the end of the day, however, this still has to be a bitter pill for Microsoft to swallow.
According to interviews with Bungie since the announcement, this game may make an appearance at E3, but for all intents and purposes Halo: Reach will be the studios main focus at E3. Halo: Reach will also be the last Halo game (at least) for the next 10 years and will be the. When asked if Microsoft had first refusal on this new IP, Bungie would not comment on their relationship with Microsoft since gaining their independence.
Bungie has stated that the sky is the limit with what they can do at Activision. Activision is providing them the opportunity to work on any IP that Activision owns outside of this yet-to-be-named universe. Can we announce Call of Duty: ODST yet?
One of the interesting wrinkles that has developed is a recent LA Times article, quoting sources familiar to the IW-Activision fallout, is that the recent partnership is nearly identical to the one the former heads of Infinity Ward were seeking. Once talks broke down, however, Activision found those former employees, rumored to be, guilty of seeking an outside partnership with EA or for attempting to form their own company while still with Infinity Ward. (Hello, Respawn Entertainment!)
Some conspiracy theorists (put on your tinfoil hats folks!) remember that this is similar to how Infinity Ward started out with Activision. They began with a nice partnership over this little title, the name eludes me at the moment… had something to with like a telephone call and maybe some work… was it Voice of Responsibility? Ah, oh well, it isn’t important. After the launch of that successful game, Activision began to gobble up stock – over an extended time period – until it became the majority stock holder of Infinity Ward. Could history repeat itself with Bungie, only to see the employees seek some creative freedom, a new IP, and leave to form a new company (in theme with the new studio Respawn Entertainment, they should just get the rights now and name it “Extra Lives Studios” or “Press Start to Continue”).
Either way, Bungie must have all ready gotten into Activision’s PR Kool-aid in making grandiose statements like this IP will be “better than” Halo. Uh oh! Sony loves the move and has gone on record stating that the new IP is “Halo on steroids”. Oh boy! This could be awesome build up for E3 and some big news dropped by Microsoft, because there is no way they did not know this was coming by now. Nine months is an awful long time to have your head stuck in the sand.
Anyways, to those fanboys concerned, Halo will not be going multiplatform. You step back from that ledge, my friend.