Bungie, creators of the Xbox-defining Halo series, have just signed a ten-year deal with Activision Blizzard; allowing them to make games on PS3 for the first time. In equivalent terms, it's like Uncharted 2 developers Naughty Dog defecting to Xbox, or Wayne Rooney signing for Chelsea. Go here if you want to read how the industry has reacted, but if you're more interested in what it means for PS3 gaming, PSM3's console-moonlighting Halo expert, and online multi-player veteran, Owen Hill shares some intriguing insight below... with seismic implications for Modern Warfare 3.
What's so good about Bungie/Halo anyway?
Though iconic, Halo's hero Master Chief isn't the most inspiring of protagonists. He rarely speaks or shows his face and is the primary reason there's a lot of generic space marines around.
But when I think of Halo, I don't even think of a green suit. I think of red Spartan's fighting blue ones. I'm referring to multi-player. The key to Halo's success.
I've probably spent more time playing Halo 2 than any other game. In 2004, the idea of playing online against people across the world on a console was considered black magic for most gamers, including myself. Halo 2 let us do that, effortlessly.
But it didn't just work - it had a matchmaking system that's yet to be bettered, and provided one of the most balanced online arenas to date. You could even play split screen, and still compete with 12 players around the world. Four-player split screen. Online. Six years ago. It was still the most popular game on Xbox Live two years after its original release. Yeah - I liked it.
Put simply, Bungie are the masters of multi-player shooters. It might be down their extensive tweaking, or their genuine dedication to community, but Bungie have repeatedly created some of the most competitive, and long-lasting gaming experiences around.
Is Master Chief coming to PS3?
No. Halo Reach will be the last Bungie Halo game, but according to Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, Bungie are "a very good fit" to create the next instalment in the COD series: It'll all depend on the outcome of the forthcoming ex-Infinity Ward Zampella/West lawsuit to see who gets the ownership rights to the Modern Warfare franchise, but an exciting prospect nonetheless. Analyst Michael Pachter recently speculated that Zampella/West would be unlikely to claim the legal Modern Warfare IP rights, potentially leaving Bungie clear to make Modern Warfare 3, picking up the story of Captain Price and Soap as renegade agents.
So what do we actually know about their next game?
It'll be multi-platform
This is something Activision COO Thomas Tippl seemed very happy about: "This agreement is about bringing Bungie's new great IP to gamers worldwide to a platform of their choice and at the same time further drive Activision's profitable growth opportunities."
It'll have kick-ass online features
We could have guessed this one ourselves, but here's what Bungie's own Brian Jarrard has to say to VG247.com: Bungie has a pedigree of online experience and a pedigree of social and community interaction. Our future is to build on our strengths. And, obviously, Activision has a lot of expertise in the online space as well."