Bungie, Activision lock down 10-year exclusivity

Suburban Seattle shop will remain independent, develop wholly owned new IP exclusively for Call of Duty publisher through 2020 on "all platforms" Microsoft retains Halo ownership; Sony says PS3 edition will be "Halo on steroids."


With a potentially $625 million lawsuit filed against Activision by Infinity Ward employees this week, it didn't seem possible events surrounding the publisher could get any more dramatic. Then, this morning, Activision announced it had locked down one of gaming's top developers for a decade-long exclusivity deal.

Expect to see the Activision logo next to this through 2020.
Expect to see the Activision logo next to this through 2020.

Under the terms of the agreement, the studio behind the heralded Halo series has allied with the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 publisher for "an exclusive 10-year partnership to bring Bungie's next big action game universe to market." The deal will give Activision exclusive international publishing rights to all future Bungie games based on an unnamed new property through 2020.

According to Activision COO Thomas Tippl, Bungie's "new intellectual property" will be available on "all platforms"--including the PlayStation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment America corporate communications chief Patrick Seybold backed it up with a Twitter post, saying, "Marrying [Bungie's] creative minds and incredible talent to the power of PS3 will be like giving PS3 fans Halo on steroids."

The multiplatform move marks an end to the suburban Seattle studio's current Xbox 360 exclusivity. Since 2001, Bungie has effectively developed Halo games solely for Xbox platforms, farming out the PC port of Halo: Combat Evolved to Gearbox Software (Borderlands) and Halo 2 for Windows Vista to an internal Microsoft Game Studios team.

Activision Blizzard COO Thomas Tippl and Bungie president Harold Ryan.
Activision Blizzard COO Thomas Tippl and Bungie president Harold Ryan.

Microsoft Game Studios had been Bungie's exclusive publisher, as Microsoft owned the studio until 2007. That year, the shop stunned the industry by breaking away from the Redmond, Washington-based software giant to become an independent shop. Reps for the studio have previously said that it is working on an all-new game and that Halo: Reach will be its last Halo title.

Microsoft continues to own the Halo IP, and recently formed an entire internal division, 343 Industries, to manage and develop it. Following the deal, it gave the following statement after the Activision deal was announced: "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."

Today's announcement underlined the fact that Bungie will remain an independent studio and retain ownership and control of its new IP, with Activision providing publishing duties and (presumably) financing. Those terms sound eerily reminiscent of the arrangement struck between Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment, the indie studio recently formed by fired Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella.

To hear Tippl discuss the deal--and literally say "let's kick EA's ass!"--check out the video press below. (Video starts at 1:04.) To hear Bungie explain how the deal go down, read GameSpot's interview with community manager Brian Jarrard and writer/design director Joseph Staten.

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Avatar image for got_ice_tea

Bungie have gone with Activision for what reason do they wanna make a halo mmo altho Microsoft game studios hold most of the rights to halo lol.

Avatar image for aeming4u

Did i just see activision, blizzard and bungie in one sentence?

Avatar image for hello8964

good deal and ea will rise again

Avatar image for madgame23

Personally I think this will be an advantageous arrangement. Halo 1 was awsome because they were able to make the game their own way on their own time. Halo 2 was bad because Microsoft hurried them along to get the game out and they were not able to improve the game, and so the graphics in it looked choppy and the story line was messed up. Same thing happened with Halo 3, then ODST came out and now Reach and the difference in how each game is, is because Bungie is no longer a Microsoft Owned subsidiary. Amazing how a little independence can improve things. I don't know the whole story about Activision and IW but from what I know both parties are to blame. I believe IW left out all the good stuff that made MW1 great was because of external reasons and that's why they were fired, although the way Activision handled it was bad also.

Avatar image for BubbaEgge

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for BubbaEgge

@ colt_a I do agree with you partly, but have you ever played Marathon? or the Myth series from Bungie... Great games... But my main point is that comparing Bungie to Bioware is a little unfair. Bungie is a much smaller company. So they don't necessarily have the resources to be working on two or 3 series at a time. If they did try to do so, the quality of all of their games would fall drastically. So as they grow, hopefully they will have 3 different series at a time and they will still be the quality that Bioware sustains.

Avatar image for perrytails

no one wants the crap of halo on the ps3 y like a spit on the face!!

Avatar image for jdog8888888

I bet it is something like Viva Pinata or the Sims. Maybe not so cheesy, but something with multiplatform multi age appeal. You think Bungie is going to make a shooter to compete with its own Halo or Activtion's COD?

Avatar image for SeargantGoat

A new I.P.? Personally I'd love to see them revisit the Myth series, depending on whether or not they still have the rights.

Avatar image for enclave4444

reminds me of rareware..the guys who made the most fameous games of all time (golden eye,perfect dark,conker,etc) microsoft owns them now and there games are ok but not amazeing..of corce were talking about bungie and activision but i wouldent be suprised..But that may not happen.

Avatar image for shadow-crow

this is the day half my heart dies

Avatar image for SP33DK1NG666

ahhh i hate activision!! Halo always kicked more ass than cock of doody and now activision have come along,thought 'ooh they make good games,lets go screw up their company by signing a 10 year deal!!' Activision is now hated by everyone. Except for PS3 people who think Halo is coming to PS3. They want to sleep with Activision. Goodbye Halo. Hopefully Bungie won't let Activision screw their games. KEEP KICKING ASS BUNGIE!!!

Avatar image for Raiken56

NOO , bungie was on the 360 only. im not bummed that theyre making games for the ps3. Ill just be bummed if they stop making games for the xbox !

Avatar image for ckynick254

All of activision games seem cheap. The graphics look a bit off. You can see GH2 GHWH and all of those and look at CoD4 and CoDMW2 they have the same graphics like a dinge brown tint. And everything is light. You don't feel like you are holding 1000lb, but a butterfly. If you know what i mean only hardcore gamers pay attention to that stuff. but i dont think activision will be changing any of that. unlike what ea would do giving people cheap servers to have a high ping on an very bad connection with full server. Along with a fast game made that seems rushed.

Avatar image for sirkibble2

This wasn't a smart move for Bungie. They're about to get stifled just like how Activision has done to the rest of their developers.

Avatar image for fett283

As long as Bungie can still make good games I'll be fine.

Avatar image for Trickymaster

Bad decision. They should have gone to Ubisoft or heck even EA. Activision is dead.

Avatar image for huntervaneg

I expect Activision investment justifies in the time... Or it will be as the MS investment for Rareware?

Avatar image for Ultramarinus

Bungie unfortunately is making its second big mistake a decade after the first.

Avatar image for Legojake94

wow.... i guess this means that halo is coming back to the PC !!! yay!

Avatar image for ffviiifreak

I thought that this would be a good deal but after what Activision did to Infinity Ward I'm pretty sure that Actne will be spending most of their time trying to screw Bungie out of their fair share instead of doing any actual work marketing their games.

Avatar image for MohammedMusfa

The number one videogame publisher Activision????? My ass. I hope that Bungie realizes that they will be severely terminated in the near future by Activision.

Avatar image for wars45

i think halo is crap

Avatar image for jpsaply

"@jpsaply : If you want to believe they aren't sellouts, be my guest. But tell me what game they have made since Oni that weren't a milking Halo (Except Halo 1 which was a new IP) game for Microsoft Studios? So what you are saying , even though if you agree on them beeing sellouts, are that you confirm what I say. They had every opportunity and with the Halo income they had the resources as well, to make a new game. But alas they did not. That is sellout in every definition of the word" @uberjannie I am not pointing out whos a sellout or not. Just pointing out that they are an independant developer and that MS was and now Activision is the publisher. Most developers, because of the few years it usually takes to make an original IP game, it can take millions of dollars, so they need a backer. MS probably didnt want to put the funds needed, so being independant, they asked Activision for the loan, but thats all speculation on how that all worked out. Also, who else is out there with big pockets. Not to many to choose from. And to say they got enough money from the Halo projects to fund there current project is pure speculation. You dont know there budget, nor what it will take to make the IP, and we dont even know what the IP is yet.

Avatar image for Flamesingh1

@ Venom_injektion Nope , the ps3 still has plenty of exclusives to rely on ;)

Avatar image for Flint247


Avatar image for icekids

Activision must be thinking right now (damn if we had abandoned the PS3, we would not have sold 40 million games on the PS3) will now sell millions of copies of BLACK OPS and MW3 on the PS3, and still had an agreement with Bungie to bring ,,,,,, PS3 games for the life of many turns, but is forgiven by me dear Activision

Avatar image for eddysd

@supdotcom That sounds awesome!!!

Avatar image for supdotcom

Cod: Halo Warfare

Avatar image for colt_a

The problem with saying that either of them are going to make anything-killers is that they have to strike gold again. The average gamer (sadly) has very little loyalty to publishers or developers. Respawn and Bungie are going to have to make new ORIGINAL IPs that get enough hype and actually have what it takes even moreso than they did originally. A very hard feat to accomplish in both cases. Halo and CoD being the most played Shooter Franchises of the past decade. And aside from getting lucky with Halo's cult following, what has Bungie done? Nothing that I know of anyway. Don't be so quick to think just because a company got lucky with 1 franchise, that they are just good developers. An example of a proven good developer would be something along the lines of Bioware. Someone who has proven themselves with multiple franchises on a regular basis. As opposed to the previously mentioned who just rode the wave of sequels and using the name of something established to sell.

Avatar image for Danagan

I reckon that bungie are now gona make a multiplatform halo killer game (no not halo on the playstation before xbox fans have a hissy fit) a game thats better than halo, just like respawn games are gona probebly make a game better than mw2.

Avatar image for JunoFallon

It should be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Avatar image for MacenKrace

Yay! Halo on the DS!

Avatar image for Venom_injektion

Wait... I'm confused. Okay, so Bungie i going to be producing multi-platform? What is going on lately? At this rate, there will be almost no exclusive titles for PS3 or 360. Ahhh whatever makes it easier for those who own just one console :)

Avatar image for Caml10

Yeah, because the 360 is nothing compared to the PS3...despite the fact that Crytek got the 360 demo of Crysis 2 looking just as good as the PS3 one. Sony's just getting ahead of itself like usual, kinda like that time the bashed on the Wii and then made the Move.

Avatar image for RonnieLottinSF

MS owns the Halo brand and 343 is the one doing all the development on it. Bungie is just a stamp they put on the box, which won't be there for future Halo games obviously.

Avatar image for demonic_85

Looks like I wont be buying any more Halo games. :/

Avatar image for RonnieLottinSF

The funny thing about this deal is the fact Activision bought the name, not the talent, which is now at 343 and still under MS control. It is kind of like when MS bought Rare after nearly every single bit of their original talent had left.

Avatar image for steelmouth

you hear that sonyfanboys even the big guys at sony acknowledge how big Halo is "Marrying [Bungie's] creative minds and incredible talent to the power of PS3 will be like giving PS3 fans Halo on steroids."

Avatar image for WestSideAzn

Oh well, here we go --- ruin another franchise.

Avatar image for another_drew

i love the image of these two smiling fools. the man in white is obviously thinking "squeeze this cashcow until its dry also." while the other one has the "please like me" expression. but on a more serious note, this deal is nothing more than an "oh no we lost our best developers, who can we pay to make us look good" scenario. they may think that they are throwing a curtain over our eyes, but i'm ready to see what craptacular title they dish us now.

Avatar image for CrimsonMaher

Talk about dealing with the devil! But you know what this could be good! EA and Activision are obviously at war and this could mean that there is a possibility we'll see two excellent IPs come out competing against each other from Respawn and Bungie which means bigger games for us gamers. I just hope it doesn't ends up as bigger marketing campaigns for mediocre game expansions (ala Halo:ODST and CoD:MW2) :P

Avatar image for 64-bit

Bungi just want to lose money on ps3, lose their loyal fans and lose halo as AAA title, well beside halo 1 they all sux big time.

Avatar image for BrazilianBud

@DiscGuru101 See the loadings in Uncharted 2. Ah, WAIT, there are no loadings. DAMN!

Avatar image for BrazilianBud

See the loadings in Uncharted 2. Ah, WAIT, there are no loadings. DAMN!

Avatar image for DiscGuru101

Patrick Seybold - The PS3 is not more powerful for games, see the loading in Metal Gear Solid, or Lair. Bungie must now reinvent the wheel on the PS3, then launch a more exciting IP than Halo before the end of the console life cycle? -Way to set the bar idiotically high Sony. Again.

Avatar image for Rudorlf

@YoJim8obaJoe I didn't say Halo will be dumbed down (Microsoft currently own the Halo franchise.), I say that Activision probably going to restrict creativity among Bungie developers (Means no new game concept, same as when Activision disowned Brutal Legend.), and keep forcing them to milk games based on their successful IPs every year. Nevertheless, as long as Activision keep their hands off Bungie's development, I'm cool.

Avatar image for Boblehead2008

in correction to my other comment well there goes bungie and their future best selling games

Avatar image for Seiki_sands

If I'm reading it right, this is only for one Bungie franchise (to be named later, but definitely NOT Halo). Bungie will make its game independently of Activision, who has a right to publish that game and it's sequels through 2020. Bungie can still make whatever it wants aside from this franchise, with whomever it wants (Although I would presume somewhere in the contract it would say something about not putting out a product that directly competes in the same time frame).

Avatar image for Oni

Maybe we'll see a Bungie game surface on the Mac and PC again. Possibly a sequel to Oni? :)