Why Bungievision Makes Sense

Posted by TheKidNixon (1564 posts) -

I first learned about the Bungie/Activision deal about five hours ago now, during my lunch break. And like most people, my first reaction was a mixture of disbelief, shock and (perhaps strangely) sadness. It looked like a the early portents of another ugly relationship, especially in the midst of the Infinity Ward/Respawn ugliness still unfolding. However, given time to digest and consider, I've come to the final conclusion that Bungie's deal is not only a logical move for the company, but is probably the best possible outcome for them as a company.
 
Let's make one thing very clear up front: Activision did not buy Bungie. I'll repeat that for emphasis: ACTIVISION DID NOT BUY BUNGIE. If they had, this would be a much shadier proposition for Bungie to be walking into, and one that didn't make much sense given their current dissatisifaction with their relationship with Microsoft Game Studios; they effectively would have been moving  from being the servant of one master to another, and the second master has a reputation for being kind of a dick. So it is important to understand that, for Bungie, their identity is still fully autonomous. They aren't the new Infinity Ward, because Infinity Ward was/were complete employees of Activision-Blizzard, and as such were ultimately victims of Activisions management. To put it more succinctly, Bobby Kotick can't fire Harold Ryan. The worst that Activision can do is to withhold money, which isn't in their own best interest as I'll explain in a moment. Bungie has essentially landed themselves in the enviable position of being held responsible to no one, but having a very rich big brother to help pimp their game when the time comes.
 
Something else to keep in mind is the options that Bungie had. As far as I can tell, there were really only five people who have the actual funds to reasonably enter into relationship with Bungie: Microsoft, Sony, EA, Ubisoft and Activision. More middle-sized publishers like 2K and Warner Brothers may have been interested, but their coffers just don't compare to those other companies and ultimately they were going to have to wash their hands. Microsoft may have at one time been keenly interested in keeping their relationship with Bungie in-tact, but seeing how they have their own studio to keep making Halo games and a pretty chummy relationship with Epic, they have all the shooter houses they need. Same for EA, with both DICE and whatever Respawn becomes. For Ubisoft, a major powerhouse FPS in their pocket might be attractive, but it also really isn't meshing with their current corporate culture and would cost more than they are really set up to gamble. 
 
That leaves Sony and Activision as the only two companies that have a real option in having an active partnership with Bungie, and Sony isn't going to want to play the 2nd Party developer game with someone as big as that; they'll want to own anyone who's making a title that they could conceivably make into a marquee name.  From Activision perspective, this was a more necessary move: they just lost the biggest FPS dev house in the world ostensibly, and while most people are completely clueless to the people who make their shooty games, the Call of Duty brand can only last so much longer. So invest in the guys what made Halo, piggy-back on that and have to compromise that you aren't going to own the IP, but have exclusive rights for it over the next decade. And to be honest, what franchises last much longer than a decade these days anyway? If they can create the magic that happened around Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3, turning the game into an event, they can continue to fund themselves over and into the next big IP they can run into the ground.
 
So yeah, this really is an everyone wins scenario. Bungie has a safe and interested cash line for the next ten years as well as fully autonomy from the sort of corporate overlords that caused the Infinity Ward fallout, Activision gets their response to whatever Respawn has cooking and hopefully we gamers benefit from a great dev house having the financial backing of a very invested publisher who quite likes putting out the games that you want to buy. I understand the gut reaction of "Well there goes the neighborhood," but from the perspective of business, it is in Activision best interest that Bungie makes a kick-ass game, but they don't have the power to whip them across the back and demand it yesterday. And I, for one, am still very interested to see what Bungie has been wanting to do ever since they started to consider life after Halo.

#1 Posted by TheKidNixon (1564 posts) -

I first learned about the Bungie/Activision deal about five hours ago now, during my lunch break. And like most people, my first reaction was a mixture of disbelief, shock and (perhaps strangely) sadness. It looked like a the early portents of another ugly relationship, especially in the midst of the Infinity Ward/Respawn ugliness still unfolding. However, given time to digest and consider, I've come to the final conclusion that Bungie's deal is not only a logical move for the company, but is probably the best possible outcome for them as a company.
 
Let's make one thing very clear up front: Activision did not buy Bungie. I'll repeat that for emphasis: ACTIVISION DID NOT BUY BUNGIE. If they had, this would be a much shadier proposition for Bungie to be walking into, and one that didn't make much sense given their current dissatisifaction with their relationship with Microsoft Game Studios; they effectively would have been moving  from being the servant of one master to another, and the second master has a reputation for being kind of a dick. So it is important to understand that, for Bungie, their identity is still fully autonomous. They aren't the new Infinity Ward, because Infinity Ward was/were complete employees of Activision-Blizzard, and as such were ultimately victims of Activisions management. To put it more succinctly, Bobby Kotick can't fire Harold Ryan. The worst that Activision can do is to withhold money, which isn't in their own best interest as I'll explain in a moment. Bungie has essentially landed themselves in the enviable position of being held responsible to no one, but having a very rich big brother to help pimp their game when the time comes.
 
Something else to keep in mind is the options that Bungie had. As far as I can tell, there were really only five people who have the actual funds to reasonably enter into relationship with Bungie: Microsoft, Sony, EA, Ubisoft and Activision. More middle-sized publishers like 2K and Warner Brothers may have been interested, but their coffers just don't compare to those other companies and ultimately they were going to have to wash their hands. Microsoft may have at one time been keenly interested in keeping their relationship with Bungie in-tact, but seeing how they have their own studio to keep making Halo games and a pretty chummy relationship with Epic, they have all the shooter houses they need. Same for EA, with both DICE and whatever Respawn becomes. For Ubisoft, a major powerhouse FPS in their pocket might be attractive, but it also really isn't meshing with their current corporate culture and would cost more than they are really set up to gamble. 
 
That leaves Sony and Activision as the only two companies that have a real option in having an active partnership with Bungie, and Sony isn't going to want to play the 2nd Party developer game with someone as big as that; they'll want to own anyone who's making a title that they could conceivably make into a marquee name.  From Activision perspective, this was a more necessary move: they just lost the biggest FPS dev house in the world ostensibly, and while most people are completely clueless to the people who make their shooty games, the Call of Duty brand can only last so much longer. So invest in the guys what made Halo, piggy-back on that and have to compromise that you aren't going to own the IP, but have exclusive rights for it over the next decade. And to be honest, what franchises last much longer than a decade these days anyway? If they can create the magic that happened around Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3, turning the game into an event, they can continue to fund themselves over and into the next big IP they can run into the ground.
 
So yeah, this really is an everyone wins scenario. Bungie has a safe and interested cash line for the next ten years as well as fully autonomy from the sort of corporate overlords that caused the Infinity Ward fallout, Activision gets their response to whatever Respawn has cooking and hopefully we gamers benefit from a great dev house having the financial backing of a very invested publisher who quite likes putting out the games that you want to buy. I understand the gut reaction of "Well there goes the neighborhood," but from the perspective of business, it is in Activision best interest that Bungie makes a kick-ass game, but they don't have the power to whip them across the back and demand it yesterday. And I, for one, am still very interested to see what Bungie has been wanting to do ever since they started to consider life after Halo.

#2 Posted by Gabriel (4067 posts) -

I don't think they would have gone to Sony even if they gave them an offer, they seem to want to make Multi-platform games maybe go back to their PC roots and Activision is the best option for this, I doubt EA would want yet another FPS devoloper.

#3 Posted by sodiumCyclops (2644 posts) -

Yeah it's stupid to believe Bungie wouldn't have gone over and over the contract details in order to get a deal that is NOTHING like IW's contract. No one is that stupid.

#4 Posted by TheKidNixon (1564 posts) -
@Gabriel said:
" I don't think they would have gone to Sony even if they gave them an offer, they seem to want to make Multi-platform games maybe go back to their PC roots and Activision is the best option for this, I doubt EA would want yet another FPS devoloper. "
Yeah, if I didn't make that point in my blog, I meant to. Only reason MS was in the running was because they had a right of first refusal. I'd be interested to see what the Bungie pitch was like to MGS. "You really, really don't wanna publish this game. It really probably won't be very good at all. Honest."

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