What does the recent announcement of the Activision/Bungie partnership have to do with the fallout surrounding the Infinity Ward meltdown? Absolutely nothing, says Bungie.
To that end, the megaton announcement that Activision had scored one hell of a winner by partnering with Halo creator Bungie must have come as quite a relief to the company's suits: Finally, some overwhelmingly positive press. But was this announcement timed to deflect the Infinity Ward shakeup? Did Activision hurry to sign a new blockbuster studio after seeing its old one crumble?
Nope, Bungie's design director Joseph Staten told Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander. Even if it had been Infinity Ward's desire to be more like Bungie - a studio associated with a publisher but that maintains its independence - that had sparked the controversy, Bungie itself is keeping its hands free of the whole shebang.
"Our situation is so fundamentally different that we're not concerned at all," Staten told Alexander. "It's been really great getting to know the Activision executive team. It's not every day that I have a chance to sit down with the president of the world's biggest entertainment publisher and have him spend a couple of hours talking about the story and characters we created."
The original plan for this new game had actually been in the works since 2007, said Staten - right after Bungie had broken away from Microsoft. The Activision deal had been in the pipeline for nine months, and had revolved around three key "touchstones" for Bungie: "Bungie is going to own what we create. We're not going to back down from that; we're going to be an independent company, and we want to reach as broad an audience as possible."
The timing of the announcement had nothing to do with Infinity Ward, and everything to do with the finalizing of the agreements - and the impending Halo: Reach beta. "We just this week signed the long-form contract," said Staten. "And we know in this industry that a secret doesn't remain a secret for very long. We knew we wouldn't make it to E3 without something leaking ... and we didn't want to announce during [the Halo: Reach] beta" or the game's marketing run-up.
Speaking with GI.biz, Bungie's community manager Brian Jarrard concurred:
I think my personal only concern was just having to make this announcement in a world where the landscape and climate isn't super ideal right now and what people's initial reactions might be in terms of Bungie fans and what their view would be. But in terms of our actual working relationship and the future, no, we're confident that we have a great deal and all of things that we wanted to get out of this partnership are in place for us so we can focus on making a great game and knowing that as many people as possible will be able to experience our universe on the device of their choosing.