It has been rumoured for a couple of days now but today it's official: Microsoft will spin off Bungie Studios. However, the software giant will maintain close ties with the developed of the Halo trilogy and will keep a minority stake in it.
Privately held Bungie LLC will develop games exclusively for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Windows PC platforms "for the foreseeable future," said Harold Ryan, Bungie's president and studio head, in an interview.
The two companies said they will continue to work together to support the "Halo" franchise — including "Halo 3" released Sept. 25 — and will expand their partnership to include new games. Executives declined to comment on the size of Microsoft's stake or other financial terms of the deal.
Microsoft acquired Chicago-based Bungie and its "Halo" concept in 2000, ensuring that the Xbox would be the only game console to run the multiplayer first-person shooter game. Bungie moved from Chicago to Kirkland, Wash., a few miles from Microsoft's Redmond headquarters, and the first installment of the trilogy went on sale simultaneously with the first Xbox console in November 2001.
"Working with Microsoft was great for us, it allowed us to grow as a team and make the ambitious, blockbuster games we all wanted to work on," said Jason Jones, Bungie founder and partner, in a statement Friday. "But Bungie is like a shark. We have to keep moving to survive. We have to continually test ourselves, or we might as well be dolphins. Or manatees."