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 Dan11223344

No "whoring" out the franchise? Milking it is fine though lol

Avatar image for mwidener

What we learned about video games is if you wait to get it right gamers buy the game. (And the franchise unless you screw up.) We know what we're doing - we gamers, and so do our incredible game makers. Not certain, but I think gaming skipped the recession because of this strong relationship between game players and game makers.

Avatar image for mwidener

Halo Wars i the best real-time strategy game I've ever played. It's 2014, and as I type this, I'm playing it right now. I also played Halo Wars with one of the designers before any of us knew he was a Halo Wars designer. His words to us were "we really tried to get the balance right." They nailed it. I love this game. Do another.

Avatar image for ItchyIsVegeta

"Bungie saw Halo Wars as 'whoring out' the franchise".... until they played it and saw how awesome the game is.

Avatar image for BARRICADE_28

Bungie needs to lighten up. As long as quality spin-off games of Halo were being made that fit the universe, I don't see the problem. An RTS seemed a perfect fit for the franchise given all the different units, planets & factions etc. you could incorporate into a game like that.

Avatar image for weapon_d00d816

"Well received"

Interesting, since Gamespot gave it a 6.5. Don't get me wrong, I liked Halo Wars, but it's kind of ironic.

Either way, this is more of Bungie being the little rebellious child against "big bad Microsoft".

Avatar image for 100proofsoco

How about a friggin mouse and keyboard for XBOX 720.


Avatar image for kyle_360

halo wars had soooo much potential, i wish it could have been done better

Avatar image for deactivated-5a457b7beaa88

My heart really goes out to bungie, they really are passionate about their games..but it comes necessary to break tradition every once in a while. i never played halo wars, but i think it although a risky endeavor, was beneficial in some measure to the franchise as a whole, as well as a break from the traditional first person shooter genre. Nothing is held sacred in this world and bungie should know that's especially true in business.

Avatar image for OldSchoolPlaya

I don't understand...didn't the original Halo start out to be a real-time strategy game, before shifting focus to a FPS after being purchased by Microsoft?

Avatar image for Dragon_Nexus

@OldSchoolPlaya I think it went from RTS to TPS to FPS and *then* MS bought them.

They'd been making a MAC game for all that time.

Avatar image for farcorners

why sabotage something to prove yourself right? They should have been engaged, to make sure the product was as good as possible.

Avatar image for DevaGolgotha

That's okay: Activision whores CoD like there's no tomorrow, and they get away with it. The difference between Halo games and CoD is that Halo games have the potential to be good.

Avatar image for theKSMM

Halo Wars wasn't the ruination of the Halo franchise, so Bungie should be over this by now. Besides, Bungie's new goal should be to show everyone whether they can achieve that level of success again with a brand new franchise.

Avatar image for majema007

Halo Wars was actually a better Halo game unlike your bland Halo 2, 3, ODST, and even Reach.

Avatar image for COLDFIRE25

@majema007 I loved Halo Wars, but to say it was better then the FPS doesn't make sense. Different genres.

Also, Halo 2 is almost impossible to compair anything to since it was probably one of the best games of all time.

Avatar image for Inferi-Fang

The story that was never told! I thought Bungie was ok with Halo wars.

Avatar image for stan_boyd

Halo Wars sucked, there are so many better RTS games on the market. I guess for console only players it might have been good since their games are pretty limited when it comes to RTS's, but doesn't change the fact that it was a simple, shallow excuse of an RTS.

Avatar image for gamefeind

@stan_boyd Halo was good on 360 or pc it was just a good rts all together

Avatar image for deathstream

Halo Wars is still the best Halo released so far.

Avatar image for jessie82

i quite liked the demo its still on my console since it got released incase i fancy playing it again

you can do enough on the demo to never really need to buy the full game

Avatar image for warhawk-geeby

Here's a small fact..

I remember when I used to play Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 and download the mods people made. There was guy that made a Halo mod, all the vehicles and everything.

Next thing it disappears.. Download link not available. Microsoft stated it was an infringement of their copyright law and blah blah blah blah. The modder himself said nothing more on it.

A few years down the line.. BAM. Halo Wars.

Stolen idea from the modding community!

Avatar image for COLDFIRE25

@warhawk-geeby Yeah, that's called copy right...As cool as it may have been, he's lucky he didn't get sued.

Avatar image for rextrio

RTS meant for PC

Avatar image for Vodoo

Screw Bungie! It was Microsofts' franchise to do what they pleased with, not Bungies'. And Halo Wars was definitely one of my favorite RTS games on consoles. It's better to branch-out the franchise instead of Bungies' same old, tired gameplay. I actually prefer the realistic look of the characters from Halo Wars to the cartooney look of Bungies' Halo games. Bungie is over rated, and I'm an Xbox gamer saying that. I am sooo relieved that Halo is finally out of Bungies' hands so that it can evolve properly. Bungie got stale. They think their shit don't stink because of Halo. I can't WAIT for their new game to SUCK so it knocks them off their high-horse.

Avatar image for Ranger-X


You dont know what you're talking about! have you ever played Myth: The Fallen Lords or Myth 2: Soulblighter?! they were some of the finest games in their time and even now! Bungie created that franchise...

Avatar image for Zerabp

@Vodoo Halo was always a Bungie project dude, they were just stupid and sold the rights to MS in their publishing deal, when Apple backed out on their original publishing deal, the fact is though the game despite rights ownership, was their idea and their blood sweat and tears that went into it's execution.

Avatar image for ThreeVo

@Vodoo WTF are you talking about? bungie hardly wanted to even do Halo 3.. the issue is that microsoft wanted to milk the franchise dry where bungie wanted to diversify and create new IPs ect. If i were bungie id be equally as pissed off.

They were smart for getting out of Microsofts vice grip

Avatar image for gamefeind

@ThreeVo Zalbag really??

Avatar image for GH05T-666

Honestly I really liked Halo Wars, I thought it was a great game and I am not a big fan of Halo!

I like the Real Time Strategy of it and the Halo characters in it. Halo Wars is something different that hasn't been out before unlike the countless games from COD and Halo series that are really just the same thing over and over.

I hate the First person shooter Halo, not my thing. I like realistic FPS like COD but my favourite types of games to play are RTS, which you really dont see on console very much.

I enjoyed Halo Wars and dont care what you guys think or say. I'm sure there are others out there who enjoyed it as well.

Avatar image for GH05T-666

I brought Halo ODST after i played Halo Wars thinking that it was going to be good because i got to know a few halo characters from Halo Wars and was very disappointed with it and hated ODST. i sold ODST and still have Halo Wars.

Avatar image for Vodoo

@GH05T-666 Bad choice. ODST was by far the worst Halo game ever made. I like Halo and yet I hate ODST.

Avatar image for COLDFIRE25

@GH05T-666 @Vodoo

ODST wasn't one of my favorites either, but to pick up a Halo game for the first time, ODST should have been the last one to chose from the pile. Should have started with 3 like 75% of todays Halo community.I've played Halo from the start and loved them all.

Avatar image for GH05T-666

@Vodoo yeah very bad choice but since that i haven't touched another halo game in fear of the badness of that game.

Avatar image for Joeguy00

I guess for everyone who said back then that they are just doing a Halo skin job on a bad game were only half right. The game got Halo-ed but might have been a better game without the greens and purples.

Avatar image for tightwad34

I must say they have done a good job of not comepletey selling out the Halo franchise. I am not an Xbox guy nor do I care for games of the type of Halo, but from what I have gathered they did a good job of not overloading it on us, and kept the spinoffs and whatnot to a minimum.

Avatar image for Derpalon

Halo Wars in theory was a brilliant idea. It's what Halo was originally going to be before Bungie changed directions with it--an RTS. It's a fitting genre to explore with the franchise, but it was ruined by the insistence that it must be an Xbox360 exclusive. The PC will always reign king of real-time strategies no matter how much anyone thinks they can force the market in a different direction. The game could have been so much better had it been developed for PC with a custom map tool included much like Blizzard's real-time strategies. Instead they opted to shoehorn it on the Xbox360, inevitably forcing the gameplay to be dumbed down in order to make it playable.

Avatar image for Sigil-otaku

@Derpalon You say it was ruined yet I see plenty of people on this topic (counter more than 15) saying they thought it was a good game, it also sold well and was reviewed decently. Now I'm not saying you've not got a point that it would be better on a PC but this is like saying FPS are better on PC so Halo should be on PC only anyway. It's just a bit of a dumb point considering you're saying it about a franchise that does seem to manage to buck the trend and prove PC gamers wrong that these genre's (FPS and RTS) can be done on consoles, obviously not as well but still good.

If it came to PC it'd just end up inaccessible to console players (or be a bad PC RTS) because they have to either make it workable on consoles (i.e. it wouldn't be worth porting to PC) or bad for console but good for PC. I play PC and consoles, don't see why PC gamers always assume the best experiences are only on PC though.

Avatar image for Vodoo

@Derpalon Any Halo game will ALWAYS be on the 360 before the pc. The games will ALWAYS be made for the 360 first, then the pc. Halo is an Xbox franchise, bottom line. Their will never be a Halo game that's just for the pc and not Xbox.

Avatar image for Spartan_418

@Derpalon It wasn't entirely the fault the of the 360 controller, the controls were fine, and could have allowed for a lot more depth. The simplified gameplay was meant to be accessible for console players who had never played an RTS game before.

If there ever is a Halo Wars 2, the controls will likely be the same, but it could potentially include a lot more depth, since it would assume that players have already tried Halo Wars 1 and the genre wouldn't be as much of a barrier.

Avatar image for FallenOneX

@Dr_indiana You can be forced to do many things, the quality of the work you do is always your responsibility.

Avatar image for FallenOneX

Well, I guess i like whores, because I enjoyed the hell out of that game! Not the best RTS game, but one of the better ones on a console.

Avatar image for tightwad34


There aren't very many strategy games out period for the consoles. Which ones are you reffering to?

Avatar image for Spartan_418

@tightwad34 The only ones I can think of are LOTR: BFME II, C&C 3, Supreme Commander, and Tom Clancy's Endwar, none of which were as good (or playable) as Halo Wars.

Avatar image for DP1130

@Spartan_418 @tightwad34 Dont forget that Warhammer Fantasy one. Forgot the full name but it was Mark of Chaos with added stuff. Was horrible on the console.

Avatar image for tightwad34


I got 2 which are C&C RA3, and Civ Rev. I know the latter isn't RTS, but it was great even if dumbed down for the consoles. I also got Disgaea 3 & 4, both awesome, but I would consider them more RPG then strategy.

Avatar image for steelmouth

They all say that after a game have been released but i have to say i have never played Halo Wars (its not my type or game) but i think it was well received and 1 or 2 people have called for Halo Wars 2

personally i woudnt mind the main master chief halo franchise + halo odst franchise and halo wars franchise

Avatar image for cheamo

Yes, this was the worst whoring out of the franchise, not any of the other Halo games.

Avatar image for larkin-54

Im a huge Bungie fan and while i did play some Halo Wars i was always surprised that it ever happened. Bungie is one of the last good solo developers out there (Bethesda also comes to mind) and they have their best work ahead of them. Halo literally changed the face of the modern FPS in almost every way, and much of that team is still at bungie all these years later. Quick Facts:the ODST price tag wasnt up to Bungie they intended it to be 40 bucks Bungie was owned by MS from halo 1 -3 and then was contracted to make ODST and Reach so most of that promo work with books, sodas, etc... was MSBungie owns the rights to its new IP Activision wont be getting its hands on it.

Avatar image for Fernin-Ker


Fun fact, Bungie WAS one of the best. Ironically when they went to Acti most of their best talent jumped ship for, amusingly enough, 343.