Unconfirmed: Microsoft lets go of Bungie Studios but retains rights to Halo

In what may be nearly unbelievable news, word is circulating around the web that Bungie Studios’ days under Microsoft may be over. The initial news first started from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, an outlet known for its Microsoft-related information, and has since grown legs as other media have followed up on the story.

According to an email received by the Post-Intelligencer, Microsoft has released Bungie Studios from its ownership. The deal is apparently done, but Microsoft wishes to hold the public announcement until after October 6 for the protection of quarterly financial results.

The email reads: “Apparently MS just wants Bungie to make Halo for the rest of their natural days, and Bungie doesn't like how MS is constantly trying to "handle" everything they do; the way they market their games, the way they interact with their fans (basically the fact that they do appreciate their fans), and how stingie [sic] they are with the profits (comparable to the rest of the industry). So as of today they are their own independent entity.”

Game Informer checked with its own sources and reports that Bungie and Microsoft separated on October 1, 2007. According to the magazine, Bungie did not wish to be tied down to indefinitely making Halo games. As a result, shareholders of Bungie bought the studio name back from Microsoft for “an unstated, but significant amount of money.”

Microsoft will retain all rights to the Halo franchise, assuring that the Master Chief will never grace competitors’ systems, and will also hold “the right of first refusal on future games,” meaning that Halo 3 probably won’t be the last Xbox 360 exclusive title from Bungie Studios.

When asked for comment, Microsoft’s PR representatives did not deny or confirm the validity of such events. “To your question, there's been no such announcement. We can't comment further,” said one representative to 1UP, while another said, “There's been no such announcement. We continue to celebrate the tremendous success of the global phenomenon that is Halo 3.”

It’s unlikely that any official confirmation or denial of Bungie’s split from Microsoft will appear before the end of the week. The only thing certain right now is that the door locks on Bungie’s offices in Kirkland, WA have all been changed – perhaps as a sign of a change in ownership.

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