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Gregorian chanting intensifies

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

April 19, 2022

2 Min Read
A screenshot from Halo 2 from Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo and Destiny composer Marty O'Donnell says that his legal fight with Microsoft has come to an end. In a tweet sent out yesterday evening, the longtime musician stated that Microsoft and O'Donnell/Salvatori, Inc., "are pleased to have amicably resolved their differences."

What legal differences? Mostly unpaid royalties and questions about who was the owner of what music and audio content. O'Donnell and fellow composer Michael Salvatori argued that Microsoft had not paid them proper royalties for music that they originally licensed to Bungie in 1999 during the development of Halo: Combat Evolved.

Microsoft became responsible for those royalties after it purchased Bungie in 2000, though Bungie's departure in 2007 meant Microsoft became responsible for the entire Halo franchise (it would later move all Halo development into the newly formed 343 Industries). 

"It was never work-for-hire," O'Donnell told Eurogamer earlier this year. "It was always a license deal. So that's what we did with Halo. With the first Halo music ever, that was written and recorded in 1999 for the first time. It was licensed to Bungie. Bungie didn't get bought by Microsoft for over a year."

O'Donnell has also been engulfed in legal brawls recently with Bungie relating to his work on the first Destiny game. Some of that legal action ended in his favor, some of it went Bungie's way. In 2015, O'Donnell and several other Halo alumni founded Highwire Games, which most recently resurfaced as part of an effort to resurrect the once-cancelled Six Days in Fallujah.

Now it looks like Microsoft and O'Donnell have figured it all out. The longtime composer celebrated by re-uploading his behind-the-scenes footage of guitarist Steve Vai noodling in the studio on the theme for Halo 2. In a YouTube comment, he explained that the legal resolution meant he would be able to re-upload other Halo-related content soon.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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