In March 2009, Ensemble Studios shipped the well-received console real-time strategy game Halo Wars, a million-selling project that would stand as the studio's last before being shut down. However, the game was never intended to be a Halo-branded title at all, and Bungie was none too pleased about it even existing, according to comments from Ensemble founder Tony Goodman at Games Industry International.
"Microsoft was pretty risk averse and they said, 'I don't know if we want to take the risk of creating strategy games on a console. We'd feel better if Halo were attached to it.' The difficult part of that was it took the game back about a year in development, and I think it never quite turned out the same," Goodman said. "They just said, 'Why don't you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?' But things aren't quite that simple."
Goodman described Halo Wars as a "really fantastic, under-recognized product," but claimed that Ensemble was not only facing friction from Microsoft, but also Halo creator Bungie Studios. Goodman claims the studio was not happy the Halo brand was being used for a different genre.
"Another problem was that Bungie was never up for it… Bungie was kind of sore about the idea. What they called it was 'the whoring out of our franchise' or something," he said. "Yeah, that didn't create a great relationship between us and Bungie; they viewed us as someone infringing [on their franchise]."
A Bungie representative was not immediately available for comment.