Gearbox's Randy Pitchford On Activision/Bungie Deal

by Matt Miller on Apr 29, 2010 at 08:35 AM

As the head of Gearbox Studios, Pitchford knows better than anyone the unique challenges facing an independent developer – we asked him for his take on today's big news, and he had some surprising things to say.

"I know that Bungie always has a plan and they tend to be very active in pursuing their agendas," Pitchford told Game Informer. "Among them are some incredibly talented people and I imagine they've been looking forward to the opportunity to create something new beyond Halo for quite some time. I know they've been shopping around for almost a year, so it was exciting when I learned that those efforts led to an arrangement."

The initial press release from Activision and Bungie confirms a variation of that final comment. "From working together over the past nine months on this agreement, it is clear that Activision supports our commitment to giving our fans the best possible gaming experiences," reads the statement in a quote from Harold Ryan, president of Bungie. The unspoken component of that equation, as Pitchford points out, is that Bungie was likely shopping their new "universe" to potential publishers for some time. Clearly, Activision ended up being the most advantageous and potentially profitable partner.

With that in mind, what's the attraction for a studio like Bungie to work together with a publishing partner like Activision? While Gearbox remains happily independent, Pitchford offers some insight into Bungie's potential mindset. "There are few publishing partners in the world that can provide the financing and market opportunity necessary to match Bungie's ambition and Activision is in a spot where their strategies are aligned with what Bungie had to offer. Given that I love everything Bungie does, I'm pleased that they found a partner and I very much look forward to what comes from this partnership."

Pitchford was more enigmatic when asked about the potential meaning of this deal for the Halo franchise. "You asked about my thoughts about the future for Halo and it's clear that the near term future for that brand is Reach, but I'm afraid it's most prudent for me to reserve commenting on the long range future of Halo. I can say that I'm confident that Microsoft cares about the brand and wishes for its success and longevity and there is plenty of evidence around about how they are investing in that." Given that Pitchford's Gearbox is an independent studio well known for its work on first-person shooters, we can understand the hesitance. Microsoft will almost certainly be looking for new developers to be involved in the continued growth of the blockbuster Halo series over the coming years.