Shortly after Halo 3 went on sale in North America in late September, much of Bungie Studios' staff went on a long-overdue vacation. Only a few were on hand when the developer dropped the news bombshell that it was amicably separating from Microsoft. The unprecedented deal made Bungie a totally independent operation, a status it had not enjoyed since the 1990s, when it released Myth and the Marathon series.
However, the agreement didn't mean that Bungie was walking away from Halo, the series that made it a household name. "Bungie and Microsoft have forged a deep and long-term development and publishing relationship focused on the continued success of the Halo franchise," the company said in a statement. "It is also the intent of both parties to expand their partnership to include new IP created and owned by Bungie."
Now, with Bungie employees snapping back into position, the plans laid out in the Bungie/Microsoft separation agreement are apparently proceeding apace. After largely shunning the US media, Bungie studio manager Harold Ryan told British-based Develop magazine that "We're actively engaged with the senior staff here on a couple of new IPs right now, but the team that can generate cool Halo games is still running full-speed as well."
Although hard details on any new Halo games were hard to come by, Ryan did sound optimistic about the franchise's future. "Both I and some of the more senior guys from the original Halo game have deep piles of game designs for the Halo universe that we are excited to build at some point," he explained. "If the stars align and motivations are good, and the platforms are right, we'll do them... We don't have a shortage of people happy to make Halo games." So far, the only Halo projects on the horizon are Ensemble Studios' real-time strategy Xbox 360 game Halo Wars, and the mystery-shrouded Peter Jackson-produced project set in the game's sci-fi universe.
However, as the split indicated, Ryan said Bungie is suffering a degree of Halo fatigue. "Obviously there are guys that have shipped Halo games for 10 years, and they are definitely ready to work on new IPs or create new things." He did not elaborate on what said IPs might be.