In the wake of the highly successful Halo 3 launch, which grossed $170 million on the first day and which Microsoft called "the biggest entertainment launch in history," Bungie Studios has decided to split with Redmond. As Shacknews reports, the split will leave Microsoft with a minority equity interest in Bungie, control of the Halo franchise, and publishing rights to future Bungie games. However, Bungie will have ownership of new intellectual property it creates, including new franchises.
According to Shacknews, the ability to own intellectual property and develop games outside the Halo series were "major factors behind the split." Microsoft Game Studios VP Shane Kim had this to say about the move:
While we are supporting Bungie's desire to return to its independent roots, we will continue to invest in our 'Halo' entertainment property with Bungie and other partners, such as Peter Jackson, on a new interactive series set in the 'Halo' universe. We look forward to great success with Bungie as our long-term relationship continues to evolve through 'Halo'-related titles and new IP created by Bungie.
Bungie was founded in 1991 as an independent developer of Mac games, and it created titles like Pathways Into Darkness, the Marathon series, Myth, and Oni, some of which made it to other platforms. The studio was nabbed by Microsoft in 2000, about a year after Bungie announced Halo at the 1999 MacWorld Expo.