In the mid-2000s, Bungie moved to an office separate from Microsoft's Redmond, Washington campus in order to grow and preserve its own company culture. A few years later, Bungie went independent again, letting Microsoft keep Halo while it embarked on development of Destiny. Two new reports say Microsoft has struck up acquisition talks with Bungie again, but Bungie's CEO Pete Parsons has quickly stepped in to characterize them as false.
Word first surfaced of acquisition discussions on Friday, when reporters Jeff Grubb and Imran Khan both mentioned "multiple" fizzled-out meetings between Microsoft and Bungie on the GamesBeat podcast. At our sister site Eurogamer, News Editor Tom Phillips backed up this talk with a new report this morning. Both the GamesBeat podcast and Eurogamer report point to Bungie's high asking price as a reason why no deal has been struck.
"This is false," Parsons responded to tweets about the reports.
The swift denial from Parsons could mean a number of things. Bungie may not agree with the characterization in the reports of its high-but-unspecified asking price, or Parson could be saying that no such talks have occurred.
Regardless, it's not as though Bungie and Microsoft have kept their dealings to the absolute minimum required for the former to publish and support Destiny and Destiny 2 on Xbox consoles. Earlier this year, Bungie and Microsoft struck a deal to bring Destiny 2's paid expansions to the Xbox Game Pass library.
Destiny has been Bungie's major focus since it wrapped up its time with Halo, but the developer still has ambitions to become a multi-game studio. In 2018, Bungie announced a $100 million investment from Chinese internet conglomerate NetEase and implied it was developing a new intellectual property. Since then, Bungie has split from publisher Activision and is continuing on a new three-year plan for Destiny 2 as a self-published title. Meanwhile, recent job listings suggest work is continuing on a new comedic project stewarded by Bungie's secretive incubation team.
Twice now, in 2007 and again in 2019, Bungie has framed independence as a welcome status for the studio's health, and numerous stories about tensions with both Microsoft and Activision have added context to that outlook. In February, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer even referred to Microsoft's handling of Bungie as one of a few "real poor learning experiences" in the company's early days of picking up studios.
Still, game development at Bungie's scale is an expensive business. Given the recent acquisition spree that's seen Xbox Game Studios swell to over a dozen development studios, it would not come as a shock to hear about Microsoft attempting to court any talented independent studio with well-known titles to its name.
On a related point, Microsoft recently reunited former Bungie writer Joseph Staten with the Halo franchise, enlisting him as Halo Infinite's new Campaign Project Lead. Delayed to 2021, Infinite will not be available in time for the launch of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Destiny's Beyond Light expansion suffered its own delay, but it's nevertheless scheduled to hit all platforms—including Microsoft's next-gen consoles—on launch day, November 10.