Bungie and Microsoft officially split

Halo 3-maker set to "return to its independent roots" with MS retaining a minority financial stake in the company.

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Rumours have been bubbling over the Internet cauldron all week that Bungie would be jumping ship from its corporate masters at Microsoft. The rumours seemed unlikely to be true, as Bungie has been wholly owned by the Microsoft machine since 2000.

Today, though, the unlikely became reality. This morning, Bungie announced it was officially splitting away from Microsoft to become an independent, privately held developer, Bungie LLC. Microsoft will continue to retain a minority stake in Bungie and continue its long-standing publishing agreement with the company.

"While we are supporting Bungie's desire to return to its independent roots, we will continue to invest in our Halo entertainment property with Bungie and other partners, such as Peter Jackson, on a new interactive series set in the Halo universe," said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios.

Bungie will remain in its current location in Kirkland, Washington, and will retain its primary focus on Microsoft platforms. Harold Ryan, Bungie's studio head, commented, "This...will enable us to expand both creatively and organizationally." Ryan also stated that the studio would continue to work on Halo and "beyond."

"Bungie is like a shark," said Bungie founder Jason Jones. "We have to keep moving to survive. We have to continually test ourselves, or we might as well be dolphins. Or manatees." (Emphasis in the original.)

Bungie's latest release, Halo 3, has nabbed $300 million in sales in its first week, becoming the fastest-selling video game in history and is even topping charts in Japan.

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