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Bungie's Brian Jarrard

The studio director talks through the 10 year Activision deal and what it means for both companies How important was it for you to retain ownership of the IP?
Brian Jarrard

It was incredibly important. Actually when Bungie divested from Microsoft back in 2007 we not only struck out and returned independent but actually drafted a constitution for our studio. One of the articles in our studio's constitution is that we will own the things that we create. It's become a pillar of Bungie and that was one of the most important things for us.

Looking back at a decade of working on Halo that wasn't our IP we learned a lot from that and I think it was just a position that no one ever wants to be in again in terms of having people like Jason and our core creative team be inspired and want to continue doing great work and having the opportunity to kind of live or die by their own decisions and share in the successes of what they create. It's a huge part of what drives Bungie and I think that if that had not been the case then we would not be the studio that we are today. Were you cautious of signing with Activision after its very public falling out with Infinity Ward?
Brian Jarrard

No, not really in terms of the deal itself because, for one, as I said, this discussion really started about nine months ago when we had a term sheet that was signed by March 31 and the long form was just completed this week. So it's now 100% official and we wanted to go ahead and announce it.

I think my personal only concern was just having to make this announcement in a world where the landscape and climate isn't super ideal right now and what people's initial reactions might be in terms of Bungie fans and what their view would be. But in terms of our actual working relationship and the future, no, we're confident that we have a great deal and all of things that we wanted to get out of this partnership are in place for us so we can focus on making a great game and knowing that as many people as possible will be able to experience our universe on the device of their choosing. So that March 31 date was decided a while ago? Because I guess people might have been thinking the deal was closed now by Activision because they do need the positive publicity.
Brian Jarrard

The terms were, I guess, signed March 31 but nobody wanted to make a premature announcement before the final long formal contract was complete. And that just happened this week.

You know, ideally the timing maybe isn't the greatest because of all the noise out there right now, but for us it's really important that we didn't want to have this happen on top of our Halo: Reach beta which launches next week. We didn't want to have this interfere with Halo: Reach's moments at E3. It's really important we don't overshadow this game we're working on after all the great work we've put into it. The news - it's official and you can't keep it under wraps for long because nothing in this industry stays secret, so we should just come out and talk about it. And as far as we're concerned we're going to get right back on with business making Halo: Reach. And we'll have a lot more to say later and eventually our game will start to speak for itself. You mentioned there was some worry the fanbase will respond badly to the partnership. Do you really think that, or is it more likely to be the vocal minority that take issue?
Brian Jarrard

It's just the internet. I'm seeing both right now. I think fans of Bungie, they've stuck through Bungie when Microsoft acquired the company ten years ago and that was perceived to be the end of the world and I think that worked out pretty well for our fans and for the studio as well.

Ultimately I think that all that matters is the game and what I would love our fans to know is that we have a great deal here that gives Bungie everything that we need to focus and make the best possible gaming experience in the next decade. And really just focus on that it's ultimately going to result in something great for our fans. It's great to know that the work we're doing now has an outlet and will actually be released and isn't all for nothing. It's been stressful for the last year, not really knowing what the future was going to hold for the studio. Are you tied to Microsoft in any way now? Or will your plans remain the same with regards to MS and Halo?
Brian Jarrard

We still have a really good relationship with them and obviously we're still working on Halo: Reach together. Even after that is released we'll have a portion of Bungie that will still be focused on supporting the game on Xbox Live and supporting our community. I think we'll continue to always have a strong relationship with Microsoft because we have had a great run together and we don't want to see that come to an end.

But we're definitely not going to be making any future Halo titles and it's their IP and they'll take the game universe forward in the way that they see fit. And once Reach is concluded we'll have the bulk of our team working on our next big project with Activision. Can you say anything about the new IP in terms of formats, or whether motion technology might play a part?
Brian Jarrard

I can't give a lot of details because it's a bit premature and we don't want to lose sight of Reach and a lot of these things are still being discussed. But what I would tell you is that we're definitely building, in the Bungie tradition, another big action game universe that we hope people will want to spend a lot of time in and will have a lot of stories to tell and experiences to share.

And we'll definitely be building on the pedigree that got Bungie to where we are today in terms of everything from gameplay to art to story to our online interactions and our social experiences. So, it's going to be carrying forward and building upon all of those and continuing to raise the bar and innovate as we have with every game before. It must be liberating to be freed from the constraints of Xbox and PC, especially at a time when new hardware such as motion control is such a big deal.
Brian Jarrard

You know I think our engineers would probably say it's both. On the one hand it's probably a little bit terrifying because we've come to know the Xbox so well over the past decade. But on the other hand, as story tellers and as creatives it's always great to try and seek as large an audience as possible to share your creation with and be able to have people experience this universe.

So it is very exciting for us - the potential to have this new world be shared with more people across more interesting types of engagements and devices than we have in the past is very exciting for us, but definitely a little bit scary because it's going to be new stuff. But Activision has a lot of expertise with multi platforms and it was definitely one of many attributes that made them a great fit for our future.

Brian Jarrard is community director at Bungie. Interview by Kath Brice.

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