Bungie Doesn't Own Halo, Sony Won't Get Halo Rights in Acquisition

Bungie, the "Halo" creator, gave up intellectual property rights to the franchise to Microsoft in 2007. When Sony acquires Bungie, it won't get Halo as part of the package.

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Feb. 1 2022, Published 10:46 a.m. ET

Since Microsoft spun out Bungie in 2007 and retained intellectual property rights to Halo, Bungie has been independently owned and then licensed to Activision Blizzard. Now Sony, in a race to stay competitive with Microsoft in the video-game sector, is buying Bungie in a $3.6 billion deal, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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Halo, one of the most popular video games in the past two decades, has changed hands a few times from its original owner Bungie. Bungie Inc., an independent game publisher based in Washington, developed the original Halo and also makes the popular game Destiny. Microsoft owned Bungie from 2000–2007.

Who owns the Halo franchise?

As The Wall Street Journal notes, Xbox Game Studios (part of Microsoft) has been producing new Halo games since spinning out Bungie and it's still the owner of Halo intellectual property. The new acquisition in the works for Sony is to buy Bungie, but Microsoft still owns the IP rights on Halo and its related games.

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Halo scene
Source: Halo Facebook

A scene from the Halo gaming universe.

Sony is buying Bungie but not Halo.

Sony will be taking over Bungie, Inc. with the new $3.6 billion deal. Bungie is based in Bellevue, Wash. In addition to being the original developer of Halo, Bungie is also known for its popular game franchise, Destiny.

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As CBS News reported, Bungie started in 1991 with games like Myth and Marathon, which were designed for play on personal computers.

When Microsoft let go of Bungie in 2007, it retained intellectual property rights to Halo for its Microsoft Xbox use. After the Sony acquisition is complete, Microsoft will still be the owner of the entire Halo franchise.

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Bungie and Playstation
Source: Bungie Facebook

Bungie will partner with Sony's PlayStation.

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What will happen to Bungie after the Sony deal?

Although Halo will only be available through Microsoft’s Xbox console systems, Bungie’s other intellectual property including the popular Destiny franchise will be available through Sony’s PlayStation consoles.

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Bungie made a 10-year exclusive publishing deal with Activision Blizzard for the Destiny franchise, but Activision ended the deal in 2019 citing underperformance.

Sony has stated that once the deal passes regulatory approval, Bungie will be an independent subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment. The board management will remain the same, with Chief Executive Pete Parsons and Bungie’s current team staying in leadership.

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Bungie, under Sony’s umbrella, plans to focus on the development of Destiny 2, which is an expansion of the Destiny universe, and the creation and development of new games or properties. Growth while maintaining creative control is anticipated.

Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard.

Sony’s major takeover of the video-game maker comes on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement that it's acquiring Activision Blizzard. The two big firms continue to battle each other through content acquisitions that might be made exclusive to their platforms and Microsoft maintains ownership of Halo.

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The all-cash deal for Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard comes to about $75 billion or $68.7 billion after adjusting for net cash. Activision Blizzard makes Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft.

Microsoft and Sony aren’t the only large firms buying up gaming companies. Take Two Interactive Software Inc. announced its takeover of mobile game maker Zynga Inc. in January.


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