Halo developer Bungie enters 10-year partnership with Activision

Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder at Activision. Bungie has just announced that it has entered into a ten-year publishing agreement with Activision, which will receive exclusive, worldwide rights to publish all games based on Bungie's "next big action game universe." The deal also notes that Activision will have the rights to publish said games on "multiple platforms and devices," meaning Bungie's longstanding Xbox exclusivity may come to an end.

Furthermore, the agreement specifies that Bungie will remain an independent company and will retain all rights to its intellectual property. Bungie president Harold Ryan notes that the two companies have been working on the deal "over the past nine months."

The specificity of the agreement is noteworthy, especially that Activision only has rights to publish games based on Bungie's new intellectual property -- its "next big action game universe," whatever that may be. The fact that Bungie will retain ownership of its IP is particularly interesting, especially in light of the widening rift between Activision and Infinity Ward.

When Bungie famously split with Microsoft in 2007, it was assumed Microsoft would retain first right of refusal on any future Bungie projects. It's unclear why (or if) Microsoft refused Bungie's latest project, though the company's apparent multiplatform ambitions would provide a likely explanation -- that is, assuming Bungie doesn't have more than one project in the pipeline.

Update: Added commentary from Activision's Thomas Tippl and Bungie's Harold Ryan after the break.
[Activision Blizzard's Thomas Tippl (left) & Bungie's Harold Ryan (right)]

In a sound-bite-filled B-roll video regarding the announcement of the "ground-breaking, 10-year partnership between Bungie, one of the greatest developers in the world and the makers of Halo, with Activision, the #1 video game publisher," we're treated to some details on that partnership thanks to one Mr. Thomas Tippl from Activision and Harold Ryan from Bungie. We've transcribed the highlights below:

Tippl:
  • "Today is a fantastic day for Activision and Bungie because we are bringing together one of the world's greatest developers with the #1 publisher in video games."
  • "Today we are very excited to announce a ground-breaking, 10-year partnership between Bungie, one of the greatest developers in the world and the makers of Halo, with Activision, the #1 video game publisher, will bring their new intellectual property to fans, worldwide, across all platforms."
  • "This agreement is about bringing Bungie's new intellectual property to gamers worldwide on the platform of their choice, and at the same time, further drive Activision's profitable growth opportunities in a way that's accretive to operating income margins."
  • "This partnership is great for Activision because it strengthens our long-term growth aspects, it's financially attractive because it's accretive to our operating income margins, and I believe will also benefit from the creative collaboration with Bungie and bringing our expertise as the #1 online gaming company to this partnership."
  • "Well, we're always looking at opportunities to bring great games to gamers worldwide. There are very few studios in the world with the caliber of Bungie, with a track record of making great games that sell, and as such we began discussions with Bungie about nine months ago and we are very glad and excited that today we are ready to announce a 10-year alliance."
Ryan:
  • "As an independent developer, this alliance allows Bungie the opportunity to bring our next gaming universe and IP to the largest possible audience."
  • "The alliance between Bungie and Activision is a great alliance and is actually an amazing opportunity for both companies. Bungie is always looking for the best partner to bring our universes and stories to a worldwide audience and Activision is the best partner for this."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.