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Microsoft Owns Halo, No Outside Investors In Bungie

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an updated story on the to-all-visible-appearances amicable Microsoft-Bungie split, including comments from Bungie studio head Harold Ryan and Microsoft's Shane Kim.

It's well worth poring over. Both Kim and Ryan are extremely evasive regarding any of the financial details, but they do say that the Halo intellectual property belongs to Microsoft, and that Bungie is "not bringing in any outside investors". Not sure if that means that going forward they aren't bringing in any, or whether there are no investors other than Microsoft and Bungie itself.

That probably indicates either some kind of management buyout, where members of Bungie, perhaps including Ryan, sought bank financing rather than an angel investor in order to buy a controlling stake back from Microsoft, or perhaps a special deal involving future publishing revenue that allowed Microsoft to spin off Bungie as a separate unit with majority control going to some or all Bungie employees without any payment; on that point Kim is silent, saying (several times) that details will not be disclosed.

So, to summarize:

  • MS owns Halo
  • Bungie will still make Halo games
  • Bungie will still make Xbox games
  • MS will publish Bungie games, Halo or not

The funniest bit? When Kim tries to dodge a question about a vague statement about Bungie becoming, at some undetermined point in the future, "fully independent" and replies:

Kim: It doesn't matter about equity stakes. Fully independent, completely in control of their future and doing what they want to do, regardless of who owns what.

Right. It doesn't matter who owns what. That's why Microsoft bothered buying them in the first place, and is now spinning them off. Because ownership and control are unimportant. If it didn't matter, why bother doing it?