UPDATE: To clarify, Bungie are creating a new IP with a fully exploitable universe that Activision has the rights to publish for 10 years. Bungie will own that IP so after a decade has passed, another publisher could gain the rights off Activision. There is every possible chance that Bungie will also be creating other IPs or even start to work on existing ones during the 10 years and allow another publisher to distribute them.
So, what just happened? According to the wonderful wide web, Bungie have signed a 10 year deal with Activision who will have the rights to publish all future Bungie games [of a single IP]. Their admittance of developing games for multiple platforms, not just the Xbox 360, is unlikely to come anytime soon although Activision COO Thompas Tippl did say that they will be bringing Bungie’s next universe to “the platform of your choice”. No doubt learning many hard lessons from allowing Microsoft to purchase the Halo IP, Bungie will hold the rights to the future intellectual property – a move made even more important after the Infinity Ward debacle going on right now.
While the bulk of the studio have been hard at work on Halo: Reach, another team headed up by Jason Jones, co-founder and studio creative director, have already begun planning out just what that universe will be that Activision will bring to our chosen platforms. To assure fans that the studio hasn’t sold out or anything (though a lot more convincing is still needed I’d imagine), a statement from Bungie ended as follows: “We are still Bungie, still independent, and now we are free to bring our stories to an ever bigger audience”. The full statement can be found at G4TV by Patrick Klepek.
I find the whole thing very bizarre and the timing to be just as bewildering. On the day that Halo: Reach begins its beta testing, this bombshell is dropped onto the world. And after all the immense grief and mistrust that has come out of the Infinity Ward firings, Bungie were still happy to go ahead with the deal. Of course talks between the two companies would have been going on long before what some are calling the fall of Activision but they’re not a stupid developers and a get out clause would have been implemented in some form or another. Which makes me think that maybe this will be good for Bungie. Like they say, now a larger audience can enjoy their style of game design and it’s not like they’re about to give away another multi-million selling IP. And Activision has secured a triple A team to fill the void where a confident Infinity Ward once stood. Good luck to both of them, if it means more games to more people, it can’t be all bad… can it?