By Jared Newman | Friday, July 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm
Bungie’s been finished making Halo games for nearly a year, but now the developer is cutting its final ties with the franchise and ceding control of multiplayer to another developer.
Although the changeover won’t actually happen until August 2, Bungie is saying its goodbyes now, having celebrated its 20th anniversary by playing Halo: Reach with fans. Soon, the developers will drop off the radar as they work in secrecy on a new project, as part of a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision, 1UP reports.
“Halo is yours now,” the company wrote. “In many ways, it always has been. Its new caretakers will strive, just as we did, to be worthy stewards but you have the package. Hold these characters and stories and worlds to the same unflinching standards you did while we were at the helm, but allow them all to blossom and change and grow in the ways that they must.”
It’s a powerful message as Bungie turns over the franchise that defined the studio. Clearly, Bungie wants to see Halo grow in new and unexpected ways, but not at the expense of quality.
I’ve previously written that Microsoft–or more specifically 343 Industries, its new studio in charge of all things Halo–has some big shoes to fill. The ceding of multiplayer control is symbolic of that idea. Bungie is known for tweaking and curating the Halo multiplayer experience long after each release by adjusting maps and playlists in response to player behavior. The burden’s now on 343 Industries needs to give Halo multiplayer the same level of care and support.
I’m excited to see what’s next for Bungie. (Rumor has it that a massive multiplayer shooter is in the works.) It’s a talented studio, and in recent years Halo started to seem like a straitjacket. Setting the series free, however teary for the developers, is totally necessary.