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.


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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 Morphine_OD

Well basically Bungie was right. It WAS whoring out their franchise.

Avatar image for UnaSolida

I played the demo and I was so glad I decided not to buy it.

Avatar image for billlabowski

Horrible game. RTS isn't supposed to be on console, the controls were awful and Halo didn't belong in there. I agree with Bungie.

Avatar image for unreal101

It wasn't a bad game; the controls were decent for a console RTS, and the story was done well enough to be a legitimate (though rather inconsequential) addition to the overall canon.

That being said, I do think it cheapens the overall brand, because the game was an obvious cash-in from the start.

Avatar image for Krellenn

Truth is though, the game would of sold a lot less if it was a new IP and not branded with Halo. Microsoft was right in that regard. Best case scenario would of been if Ensemble and Bungie both embraced the idea.

Avatar image for AtomicEdge

Oddly enough, I was talking about playing this game again the other day. A friend and I were going to play through it in co-op.

The only negative thing I can say about that game, is that the inclusion of the flood made all the story completely non-canon. It would have been great just as an early Covenant vs Earth battle, but they just had to include the flood.

I guess the biggest shame is that it didn't sell well enough to keep Ensemble open. A million seller isn't to be sniffed at though!