Bungie saw Halo Wars as 'whoring out' the franchise - Report

Ensemble Studios founder Tony Goodman claims Bungie never wanted strategy game to be made; project never meant to be a Halo game at all.

206 Comments

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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.

Halo Wars appears to have a drama-filled real-world backstory.
Halo Wars appears to have a drama-filled real-world backstory.

"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.

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Avatar image for liketires
liketires

I actually liked Halo Wars. Although that may be because RTS's are one of my favorite game genres.

I guess I see where Bungie is coming from though, Bringing your franchise to a different genre last minute would be pretty aggravating.

Avatar image for nteger
nteger

@liketires Wasn't Halo supposed to be an RTS in the first place? I wish Bungie would have made that game. On PC.

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Serpentes420

@nteger @liketires nteger you and every other PC gamer need to realize that not everything is going to come out on your system PC. Enough already with the whining that every game should be on PC and PC is sooo much better than everything else. With PC you get great customization, a wider aray of games, more indie games, user generated content etc...So be happy with what you got, but don't expect publishers to try and port everything to PC when it is one of the smaller gamer markets and it opens games to piracy. In the end its the equivalent of whining that Killzone isn't on the 360 or that there is no Halo on PS3. Each gaming system has its pluses and minuses and what a gamer plays on comes down to preference so don't bitch.

Avatar image for nteger
nteger

@Serpentes420 @liketires Is it so wrong to want to play a game in the proper medium? I wouldn't be so sore about it if Bungie hadn't stopped the Halogen mod from happening, but now I see they would have done the same for Halo Wars had Microsoft not gone over their heads.

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Heshertonfist

Then what do they call signing a deal with Activision? Plus, for the brief time I played it, I enjoyed Halo Wars, almost got me into the series.

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RPGFreak90

This is the only Halo I haven't played. Because I hate RTS games.

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SpardisJX

Like the majority of RTS games, Halo Wars should've been made for the PC. Maybe then I would have been more inclined to play it.

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starfox15

Is this really a shock to anyone? Did anyone honestly think that Microsoft or Bungie really poured their hearts into this game?

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Ultra_Taco

@starfox15 Bungie didn't make Halo Wars.

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blutosan

Heh, it's funny to read. You've got this guy just trying to make a strategy game who is caught in the middle of unreasonable Microsoft and unreasonable Bungie. Sounds like the typical work environment.

Avatar image for Serpentes420
Serpentes420

@blutosan lol sadly it does

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Shantmaster_K

Not related to the topic, but I wish Ensemble would come back

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Spartan_418

@Suikogaiden correction, Bungie made 5 Halo games, just 4 if you count ODST as being an add-on and new game mode; all of them debatably good.

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Vampire64

Next year Cooking Halo and Gardening Halo

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LOWJ000

@Vampire64

lol, said the guy with a Mario avatar!

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Vampire64

@LOWJ000 Yes, Mario. Not Halo

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LOWJ000

@Vampire64 Isn't there a gardening mini game in one of the Mario Party games? Or cooking?

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Bungie is an amazing developer but I always got the sense that, after Halo CE, they were never really willing to take risks and make any big changes to the Halo formula. Thankfully that's already changing, in the hands of 343i

Avatar image for clqtte
clqtte

Halo War is good

Avatar image for deactivated-58a5e8ead9efe

IMO, Bungie was wrong on this one. Halo Wars is the only RTS I've ever enjoyed on the 360. The last RTS I liked on a console was Starcraft 64.

To this day, I still wish they would make a Halo Wars 2.

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Carpetfluff

It was a decent RTS and it didn't harm the franchise.

Avatar image for nteger
nteger

Halo Wars is a travesty that never should have happened.

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Haasdude

@nteger My parents say the same thing about me.

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nteger

On consoles, that is.

Avatar image for TheArcade
TheArcade

Well, the game sold and found successs. But I understand why they were mad but at the same time Microsoft took a sort of realist approach.

An RTS game on it's own merit doesn't sell unless it's already built up rep on PC. There is a certain risk involved with consoles. On the other hand adding Halo to the title got a pop out of Halo fans who wanted something different besides an FPS and those fans got their wish. It made a lot of people happy. Too bad Ensemble were essentially forced to change the game... that sucked for them but oh well. It's too bad Bungie didn't want Halo to be whored out but honestly it doesn't matter anymore since Bungie handed Halo over to Microsoft.

I question Bungie's decision of signing a 10 year contract with Activision after they broke away from MS. So you go from one conglomerate to another? Why not just make your own Studio? Now Bungie ain't doing much of anything right now.

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SirNormanislost

@TheArcade

because the contract they have with activision means the game they want to make has funding and the number of games they need to make is already decided in the contract

they cant be made to make extra games like reach or ODST

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Serpentes420

@SirNormanislost @TheArcade They weren't made to make extra games, they were fulfilling their contract. And they are lucky MS counted ODST, though Reach is by far my favorite of the series,

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miserable247365

I love Halo Wars. Still own it and play it every few months. Best RTS I ever played on a console. That's not saying much, though. Before Halo Wars, the best RTS I ever played on a console was Army Men RTS. Before that it was SimAnt.

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Serpentes420

@miserable247365 The RTS lends itself more to keyboard and mouse that's for sure, so I don't expect them to breakthrough on consoles anytime soon, maybe the PS3 because you can use KB and mouse, however, I would wager not even a quarter of PS3 install base has KB and mouse hooked up

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GothikaGeist

Gears of War: Pendulum Wars, anyone?

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Spartan_418

@GothikaGeist Could be cool, though I think it might be harder to attract the Gears of War dudebro machismo audience to an RTS game.

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Haasdude

Wow, I loved Halo Wars. Great console RTS - I just wish that they had included a Covenant campaign.

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gatsbythepig

That's funny, I see ODST, Halo Reach and Halo 4 as 'whoring out' the franchise.

I am not the one that announced years ago that Halo would be a 'trilogy'.

At best it is now an 'increasingly inaccurate trilogy'.

Avatar image for SirNormanislost
SirNormanislost

@gatsbythepig

1 small thing youve missed is that bungie arent making halo4, 5 or 6 thats down to microsoft and 343

cant really defend ODST or reach but id say they excist because microsoft threw money at them

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Spartan_418

@SirNormanislost @gatsbythepig ODST and Reach exist because Microsoft wouldn't let Bungie split off and go independent otherwise, so Bungie agreed to make two more Halo games.

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gatsbythepig

@Spartan_418 @SirNormanislost Either way, the franchised has been 'whored out', with any release other than the trilogy.

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gatsbythepig

@SirNormanislost I didn't miss it, it doesn't matter who's at the helm now, besides Bungie didn't do Halo Wars either.

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TheFlawedGoblin

Well, I'm probably the only one who feels this way but I really thought Halo was insanely overrated. The single player stories were meh and the main feature, being multiplayer, is just not that different from any other FPS game. With Halo Wars at least it was something different for the series. I mean I compare Halo to Call of Duty in the sense that they essentially release the same game over and over again with new maps. Maybe some new weapons. That's not innovation. However, I don't blame for doing it because people seem to love repetition. It sucks for people like me who like new and different things because I feel like I only get a truly new and innovative game every two years or so in this age dominated by trying to make things as close to reality as possible. I feel like did people forget that we play video games to escape reality? I don't need to play a game where I have to do menial shit like eat food food and drink water just to survive lol. Those details were glossed over in past video games because its annoying to keep up with. Who wants to be annoyed when playing a game? I think the focus for the future of games should be more towards the fun aspect rather than reality. Just my opinion.

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Serpentes420

@TheFlawedGoblin I find Halo to be a bit overrated too, but I don't play multiplayer. To me they are rentals like most FPS get it from gamefly, spend a couple enjoyable days playing the campaign and send it back. I will disagree that there are only new and different things every couple years though. This generation offers the most variety of any previous one. Yeah FPS, TPS, and RPG dominates. But there are good action games still, platformers, sports games, racing games, indie games..etc..etc..

If you are looking for something different Goblin, have you played Shadow of the Damned, Alice Madness Returns, or Brutal Legend? When someone asks for different those are 3 games that pop out of the top of my head and all 3 can be bought for probably $10 each these days.

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Victorious_Fize

REALLY OFF-TOPIC NOTE:

As an international gamer. I just love how the US industry handles its stuff, modern and fascist, but can very much be real and indie. As opposed to Japan which is pretty cordial and archaic.

Ono-san (current SF producer at Capcom passes out from too much work, gets back to Capcom with a "we missed you Ono-san!" note and a work schedule right next to it, so he has to to subtly hint to gaming outlets worldwide that he's near-dying because of Cra$hcom.

Halo gets this random RTS from non-Bungie studio, Bungie complains about "whoring out" the franchise.

Keep it real peeps.

Avatar image for TheArcade
TheArcade

Well said.

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LoG-Sacrament

Complain about whoring out games and then refer to them as a franchise? Paraphrasing, hopefully.

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GothikaGeist

I thought an RTS was perfect for Halo. Hell, it's one of the best console RTS to date. Anything else would have sucked. Action-RPG? Are you kidding me? As a matter of fact, I remember someone (3rd-Party Developer) who tried to create a Halo MMO. That project was shut down promptly by Bungie...

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xtremeflem2day

You could say the same thing with ODST. Generic campaign and firefight mode, then they exclusively include the last map pack for halo 3, with 3 rubbish maps. Not to mention they require you to buy that to continue playing most matchmaking playlists. For 60$. I stopped playing the franchise after that.

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GothikaGeist

@xtremeflem2day You didn't NEED ODST to play the Mythic Map Pack. And they had "Vote Skip". ODST was the best entry point for people who hadn't bought any of the maps because they were all bundled in the game, alongside the whole Halo 3 Multiplayer Suite.

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Sigil-otaku

@xtremeflem2day Wars was a good game though (look at the comments below and you'll see many agree) the problem with ODST was simply that they was contracted to do so many projects but one of the projects fell through so they literally had to rush through and make a new game in a smaller time frame. It had to be more of an expansion / side story than a full Halo game because of that.

I don't know why you was too daft to just read reviews and know what you're getting into rather than buy it and be disappointed but in the end one bad game (although I hear a lot saying they liked ODST really) isn't a very good thing to base your entire decisions of a franchises continued worth on. Your choice though, just saying I doubt Halo 4 will disappoint quite like that did.

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ItchyIsVegeta

Another example how Bungie was washed up, in terms of making Halo. Halo Wars was an amazing game, and I will be the first one to preorder Halo Wars 2. Makes me glad Halo is now in the hands of developers who have a passion about the series, and want to make Halo, not Bungie that kept making Halo because of contractual obligations.

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GothikaGeist

@ItchyIsVegeta Although Bungie is awesome. You have to admit: those are sentiments from a long time ago. Plus, that was way back during the development of Halo Wars, remember how quiet the game went after that first reveal trailer?

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mrsniper83

Thats funny because i feel like i got raped when i bought that game

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blackace

Yeah, i don't know why they did this either. I would have rather they made an action RPG out of the franchise. That would have been more sensible then a RTS game. In any case, the game was still pretty good thanks to Ensemble Studios who made all those Age of Empire games. I do understand Bungie's point of view as well, but they knew this when they allowed Microsoft to purchase their game franchise. I'm sure Naughty Dog still have some regrets of selling Crash Bandicoot to Universal. Never sell your franchise unless you really don't care about it.

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glez13

More crap on MS.