Bungie's Activision franchise getting all-new engine

Franchise at heart of 10-year exclusivity deal will have fresh technology under the hood, handcrafted by Halo: Reach studio; employee count hits 180.

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With the critically lauded Halo: Reach launching today, the game industry's eyes are turning to Bungie's next project, which remains shrouded in mystery. The only hard facts known about it are that it will be an all-new intellectual property published by Activision and that it will be multiplatform, coming to at least the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Bungie is already working on an engine that's even more powerful than the one used by Halo: Reach.
Bungie is already working on an engine that's even more powerful than the one used by Halo: Reach.

This week, Bungie revealed that its new game will also have an all-new engine under the hood. Speaking with Develop magazine, community director Brian Jarrard said that the new engine was already being readied.

"I would say it's in a stage where, technically we're still at the end of a pre-production mode," said Jarrard of the new engine. "But now that Reach is done the full weight of our team is rolling into the project. Real work is underway."

"I think it goes hand-in-hand with our independent spirit," he continued. "Just like we don't want to develop a game off someone else's IP, we want to push our own technology in the same way. That's going to be our position for the foreseeable future."

Ironically, Bungie and Activision's publishing deal extends past the foreseeable future. In April, the formerly Microsoft-owned studio and the megapublisher inked a deal that will see the latter be the exclusive distributor of Bungie's new IP through the year 2020. That lengthy time frame isn't stopping analysts from predicting that the first game in the franchise will sell 10 million units on the strength of the Bungie name alone.

Jarrard also said Bungie's head count increased from 110 to 180 during the course of Reach's development, forcing the studio to relocate from its old building. By comparison, the company employed only 60 people when the original Halo: Combat Evolved launched in 2001.

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