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Sony’s $3.6 Billion Purchase of Bungie, Explained

Bungie Halo

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Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC confirmed Monday that it will buy video game developer Bungie Inc, the studio that created the Destiny and Halo franchises—a purchase that is valued at more than $3.6 billion.

This purchase is significant in the world of video games, as Bungie was for years the company that created the iconic Halo franchise that was one of the exclusive games for Xbox, the rival console of Play Station, and whose manufacturer is Microsoft.

Bungie, the company that created the most successful video game of the first decade of the 21st century

Bungie was founded in 1991 in Chicago, by Jason Jones and Alex Seropian, the company developed not very well-known games for Macintosh, venturing into the multiplayer concept since 1992 with the roll game Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete, which Jones programmed on a high school computer.

In 1998 the company went on to develop a series of strategy games known as Myth, which emulated wars in fantasy worlds, similar to the concept of Warcraft. Jones and his team felt it would be interesting to develop a science-fiction strategy game, where humanity found itself in a conflict with an alien race.

Initially known by developers as Monkey Nuts and later Blam, the RTS had a novelty in relation to the two-dimensional games of the time, a fully 3D environment and a graphical landscape with different heights.

Libros, juguetes, comics, series de streaming y, por supuesto, videojuegos constituyen el universo de Halo una franquicia que ha generado más de $10,000 millones. (EFE)
Books, toys, comics, streaming series and, of course, video games make up the Halo universe, a franchise that has generated more than $10 billion. (EFE)

Developing the arsenal, Bungie realized that it was more fun to control the vehicles and traverse the 3D map, rather than just pointing at the vehicles with the mouse and then left-clicking on the map to make them go there.

The Bungie team started to think that maybe the whole game should be in the third person, and the RTS idea died completely. The next step would be to create a shooter where soldiers from the future would fight against a Covenant of aliens who wanted to destroy humanity.

The project was joined by a curious Steve Jobs, who after being reinstated to Apple after his departure, wanted to seek new horizons for Macintosh and this was the video games. Unfortunately, the alliance did not prosper and Bungie ran out of budget before finishing the game.

In the year 2000, Microsoft acquired the rights to Halo, the mother of Windows was looking for games to release with its console that would compete with Sony and Nintendo, the Xbox. A new challenge arose to Bungie and was to adapt the game to the Xbox joystick, which meant adapting the gameplay to fit the system of a console, not the QWERTY system of a computer.

Halo again undergoes a twist and suddenly becomes a first-person shooter, where the player plays the iconic Master Chief, a super soldier, who along with the artificial intelligence Cortana, lead the rescue of humans lost in a ring of planetary proportions called Halo, who are about to be exterminated by a confederation of aliens, the Covenant.

The entertaining storyline is complemented by an epic soundtrack that is noticeable at the beginning of the game with Gregorian chants. The vivid colors, the plot, and the incorporation of the controls that would later become standard in every shooter, made Halo the cover game upon the release of the Xbox, anyone who bought an Xbox would get a copy of it.

Microsoft se encontraba obsesionado con Halo y el equipo de Bungie se encontraba harto del juego, la alianza entre las dos empresas comenzó a resquebrajarse tras la tercera entrega de la franquicia. (EFE)
Microsoft was obsessed with Halo and the Bungie team was fed up with the game, the alliance between the two companies began to crack after the third installment of the franchise. (EFE)

The game was sold along with 50% of Xbox consoles within two months of its release. One million Xbox consoles had been sold within 5 months, a success for the time.

The success of Halo Combat Evolved was followed by Halo 2, which sold 9 million copies, an unheard figure for a video game. In this installment, the story became more complex and explained how the government of the human race and that of the alien confederation worked, as well as the background of the history of interstellar warfare.

The saga was joined by 9 other games, two streaming series, and whole lore of books and comics, which today totals a franchise worth around $10 billion. Halo was a total success for the Xbox and Microsoft kept the rights to Bungie until the fourth installment of the Halo story that accompanies Master Chief.

The marriage between Microsoft and Bungie ended in 2010, with the release of Halo 4, a mediocre video game compared to its previous installments and with equally mediocre sales. The commercial success of Halo had completely jaded its creators, who often found themselves in exhausting schedules to meet delivery times for the demanding Microsoft, who was not interested in anything that had nothing to do with Master Chief’s sagas.

Destiny: Bungie’s second hit that revolutionized today’s shooters

The Bungie team, fed up with Halo, decided to start a completely different universe, in the company of a new developer, Activision.

Bungie developed a game that involves progressive elements (such as leveling up, getting new weapons and skills) in a shooter, which in turn could be fully played as a multiplayer, Destiny.

Unlike Halo, where the player progressed through several levels, Destiny introduced the player to an open world, where the user can also design his character and improve it by serving and gaining experience by walking around the map.

Destiny re-created the class system in competitive shooters, where players did not have to be satisfied with just shooting their enemy, but the characters could also charge with lightning, use swords or heal the team. Destiny returned the third person to shooter games in anticipation of games like Overwatch or PUBG.

Bungie’s new formula was once again a success and at its peak, Destiny, reached more than 25 million active players. Destiny‘s success was followed by a second installment that, while not as popular as the first, maintains a daily user base of 76,000.

The Wall Street Journal estimates that Bungie currently has annual revenues equivalent to $100 million from the Destiny franchise. With the purchase, Sony takes full ownership of the game franchise.

After the acquisition, Bungie will operate as an independent Sony franchise and will continue with its board of directors chaired by Pete Parson, the current CEO of the video game company.

Economist, writer and liberal. With a focus on finance, the war on drugs, history, and geopolitics // Economista, escritor y liberal. Con enfoque en finanzas, guerra contra las drogas, historia y geopolítica

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