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Microsoft buys Bungie in home gaming bid

IDG.net

June 22, 2000
Web posted at: 10:38 a.m. EDT (1438 GMT)

(IDG) -- In a move designed to ensure that a foundation of quality game titles will be available for the release of its forthcoming Xbox gaming system, Microsoft this week purchased independent action game developer Bungie Software Products.

Bungie, maker of such popular games as Myth and the forthcoming Oni, will become a part of Microsoft's Games Division. Bungie will be set up as an independent games studio within the larger company, which, according to a FAQ posted on the Bungie Web site (see link below), will allow Bungie to retain its corporate culture and essentially determine its own direction.

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However, Bungie co-founder Alex Seropian said the company will not be developing future games for consoles other than the Xbox. Seropian said Bungie will release the action title Oni for the PlayStation 2 as planned, but will not develop other games for the platform, citing the difficulty in writing PlayStation games.

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Microsoft's Xbox was announced at the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) in May. It is designed to compete with Sony's PlayStation 2, Sega's Dreamcast and Nintendo of America's N64, and is slated for release in the first half of 2001.

The console will be Microsoft's first entry into the high-stakes home gaming market and is arrayed with a range of PC-like features, including a 733MHz processor, 64M bytes of RAM, a 8G-byte hard drive, a 4x DVD-ROM Drive and broadband Internet capabilities.

In a related announcement, Take Two Interactive Software acquired full rights to two Bungie properties, the highly successful Myth franchise and the unreleased action title, Oni, in return for selling its 19.9 percent stake in Bungie to Microsoft. While it is not clear what Myth's future is, Oni will be released for the PC and Mac, as well as PlayStation 2 platforms.

This acquisition is especially important to Microsoft, as well as gaming fans, due to Bungie's still-in-development title, Halo. The highly anticipated game, which has garnered rave reviews and even won the Best Action Game Award (as well as three other awards) at the E3, despite its incomplete status, is seen by many as a sure blockbuster. Peter Tamte, Bungie's executive vice president of publishing, reached by e-mail, called Halo "a key factor in the purchase."

Seropian said that development on Halo would be set back "a couple of weeks" due to the move of Bungie's Chicago-based operations to Redmond, Washington, the home of Microsoft.

News of the acquisition was greeted with skepticism and anger by many Macintosh fans on the Internet. When asked about these reactions, Seropian said he was "flattered" by the strong feelings and urged fans not to worry, noting that the same people working on Bungie's games the day before the acquisition are still working on them today.

When asked whether Bungie would develop future games for the MacOS, Ed Fries, Microsoft Vice President of Games Publishing said, "If the business case makes sense, we'll support it in the future."

However, when asked if Halo, which has been promised for the MacOS, will still be released there, Seropian stated that Bungie would "not [be] answering MacOS questions" at this point, but noted that the company "hasn't stopped doing anything [they were] doing" prior to the acquisition.




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RELATED SITES:
Bungie FAQ
Microsoft

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