Just when you thought Activision might firmly be embedded in a downward spiral, they make an announcement that could change everything. It was announced today that Bungie, maker of the Halo franchise, have signed an exclusive 10-year deal with Activision to publish Bungie’s newest franchise IP. In basketball terms, it would be the equivalent of LeBron James signing with the Boston Celtics.
Details of the deal are as yet unknown, but the Seattle based Bungie would remain an autonomous studio. The deal with Activision seems to be for one specific new franchise that Bungie has been working on but has not yet announced, and it will be multiplatform.
In the statement issued by Activision, the publisher announced “that they have entered into an exclusive 10-year partnership to bring Bungie’s next big action game universe to market,” the statement read, “Under the terms of the agreement, Activision will have exclusive, worldwide rights to publish and distribute all future Bungie games based on the new intellectual property on multiple platforms and devices. Bungie remains an independent company and will continue to own their intellectual property.”
To call the news shocking undervalues the word “shocking”. The recent news coming from Activision has been a steady stream of negativity. This week alone there was a new lawsuit that claimed Infinity Ward employees have had their bonuses withheld to force them to complete work on Modern Warfare 3. Then rumors begin to circulate that the publisher is going to close Infinity Ward for good. Next, the LA Times reported that Activision was quietly restructuring, which culminated in the president and CEO Michael Griffith being restructured right out of a job. Then just when things looked bleak, Activision drops the news that they have signed an exclusive deal with what is already one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the next few years, despite the fact that no one was even 100 percent sure that it existed until today.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the entire deal is that despite the scrutiny Activision has been under for the Infinity Ward drama, and despite the microscope Bungie has existed beneath since anticipation for the Halo: Reach game really began to grow, the two companies negotiated the entire deal in total secrecy. For nine months.
“We chose to partner with Activision on our next IP because of their global reach, multi-platform experience and marketing expertise,” said Harold Ryan, President of Bungie. “From working together over the past nine months on this agreement, it is clear that Activision supports our commitment to giving our fans the best possible gaming experiences.”