Rumor Mill: Microsoft Decides That, If It Really Loves Bungie, It Will Set It Free. If It Doesn't Return, It Never Belonged to Microsoft in the First Place

There have been rumors lately that Bungie will be splitting off from Microsoft. I know all the video game writers out there are excited to be playing Junior Journalist and following the clues to the Big Scoop, but, despite Luke Smith's words of wisdom, sometimes "No Comment" really just means "No Comment." Or, more specifically, it means that the company itself has a blanket we-don't-talk-to-journalists, talk-to-our-PR-company rule and the PR company has never heard the insane rumor that a journalist just asked them about so they don't know what the company line is.

Allow me to disabuse you of any possible inclination that this rumor could be true. Microsoft owns Bungie. Bungie is owned by Microsoft. Bungie, as a corporate entity, is a wholely-owned subsidiary of the Microsoft corporation. The Bungie trademark belongs to Microsoft, Bungie's assets belong to Microsoft, all of Bungie's intellectual property and public goodwill belong to Microsoft. Bungie is a part of Microsoft.

Bungie is a profitable part of Microsoft. Bungie just had the biggest software launch in history with Halo 3. Microsoft is making scads of money off of Bungie. The only reason Microsoft would want to get rid of Bungie is if Microsoft was getting out of video games entirely, and even then they'd probably want to keep it around, developing for some other company's hardware.

The rumors of a split are all centered around the idea that Bungie is discontent making Halo. They're tired of Halo, they want to do something else. Microsoft wants them to keep making Halo forever. So the rumor at least meets the minimum requirement of making sense from a human drama perspective.

But it makes no sense from a corporate perspective. We've heard all kinds of reasons why Bungie wants to leave, but no reasons why Microsoft wants to let them go. Considering that, as mentioned above, Microsoft owns Bungie, if Bungie wants to leave and Microsoft wants it to stay, Bungie stays. Bungie doesn't even get a vote in the matter.

There's an essentially element missing in this rumor: What does Microsoft get, and where are they getting it from? Once I hear that Bungie employees have scraped together the billion dollars Microsoft would demand as a sales price for Bungie, I'll start believing the rumor. Once I hear that some outside company has expressed an interest in purchasing Bungie and has approached Microsoft about it, I'll start believing the rumor.

I won't even get into the dubious provenance of the rumor's origin (some guy on a newspaper reader's blog has a friend who knows someone who works at Bungie and told him all about the split? Please). Now, I wouldn't be surprised if the rumor turns out to be a mistranslation of "some employees at Bungie are discontent with the prospect of making Halo forever and are thinking about leaving for another studio/forming their own studio." But Bungie leaving Microsoft? No.

To its credit, Joystiq has called this rumor for the nonsense that it is. Joystiq was also out in front on the rumors about the Chinese MMO banning trans-gender character creation. Joystiq is rapidly gaining points with me for having the minimum level of skepticism required to call what they do journalism.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on October 2, 2007 11:27 AM.

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