Last week's groundbreaking, 10-year publishing deal between Activision and Bungie was met with shock across the industry, especially given the widely reported issues between the publisher and Infinity Ward, the developer of "Modern Warfare 2." The ousting of the two studio heads at Infinity Ward, followed by the departure of a chunk of its senior staff, made it a strange time to herald a brand new relationship with a big-name developer.
From the outside, it appeared as if Activision was just swapping its high-profile studio with another, but the Bungie deal has been in the works long before the major conflict with Infinity Ward became apparent. Brian Jarrard, the Community Director at Bungie, spoke to MTV News recently and said that they started having discussions with publishers a year ago. He went on to say that, with Activision in particular, "this discussion dates back about nine months." That would put the initial meeting in the summer of 2009.
Jarrard confirmed that it wasn't until this March, though, that "the official term sheet was agreed on and signed," and that the official, long-form contract was signed just last week.
Also speaking with MTV News, Joseph Staten, a design director at Bungie, mentioned that the timing could've been better. "For us, just speaking personally, it's unfortunate that there's so much noise when we're announcing what is a fundamentally different deal and a different partnership than what the [Infinity Ward] guys had."
But is there a worry that Bungie might follow the same disgruntled path as Infinity Ward? Staten is confident that things won't get to that point:
"We're not at all concerned about it from a relationship point of view. For nine months we have really gotten to know the executive team at Activision and the guys on the development side. We're really looking forward to making this relationship we built up even stronger."
Activision has been experiencing the PR nightmare that is the Infinity Ward implosion since the two studio heads were fired, so it must be nice to have some good news to share. Bungie, on the flip side, is riding high with the release of the "Halo: Reach" beta today. It'll be interesting to see what the future holds for the publisher and developer and whether the cycle of unrest can be broken.