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Interview: Bungie 'Not Concerned At All' About Infinity Ward Drama

Bungie tells Gamasutra that the timing of today's Activision deal announcement has nothing to do with the Infinity Ward drama -- and that the stud
Since Bungie's new deal with Activision has been in the making for nine months -- and since it's prime-time to put the Halo: Reach beta front-and-center -- it can be tempting to correlate today's surprise reveal with a quick save for Activision's PR war. But that's not the case, Bungie tells Gamasutra. "Not at all," Bungie design director Joseph Staten says. And although sources have told Gamasutra that Infinity Ward's desire to be more like Bungie as a model for independence is at the core of the current firestorm, the ongoing soap opera doesn't concern Bungie. "Our situation is so fundamentally different that we're not concerned at all," says Staten. "It's been really great getting to know the Activision executive team. It's not every day that I have a chance to sit down with the president of the world's biggest entertainment publisher and have him spend a couple of hours talking about the story and characters we created." It was no quick decision, Bungie stresses. Staten says the team had conceived of the new project and its "universe" almost immediately on its breakaway from Microsoft in 2007, and has been in careful talks with interested parties over the years since then. There were three key "touchstones" for Bungie: "Bungie is going to own what we create. We're not going to back down from that; we're going to be an independent company, and we want to reach as broad an audience as possible." Throughout the development of Halo: ODST and Reach, "We really fielded a lot of offers from people, but it's really taken us this long to make good on the promises we made internally." During the long process of hammering out an agreement, Activision "met us where we wanted to be," says Staten. "Now have an opportunity to create games and tell stories on as many platforms and devices as makes sense, and that's extremely exciting." And throughout the discussion process, "I think we gained a lot of new insight into... the integrity of the Activision executive team, and their dedication and focus on listening to what we wanted," he adds. So while the timing of the announcement was "unfortunate," both parties were on board, Staten says. "We just this week signed the long-form contract," he says. "And we know in this industry that a secret doesn't remain a secret for very long. We knew we wouldn't make it to E3 without something leaking... and we didn't want to announce during [Halo: Reach's] beta or in [its] marketing ramp-up." "Despite all the noise, we both agreed it was time to get out this great news, and then refocus everyone back on Reach," Staten added.

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