Halo: Reach

343 Industries is widely believed (though it's not yet confirmed) to be working on Master Chief's next adventure, but MTV Multiplayer's learned that Bungie Studios apparently considered delivering another chapter in their hero's story, prior to settling on a prequel with Halo: Reach.

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Industry Shocker: Halo Developer Bungie Studios Signs With Activision

[UPDATE: For more on this story, check out our Bungie interview, and comments from Microsoft, Sony and Bungie.]

As the drama surrounding Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward continues to unfold, Activision has dropped a new bombshell: the company has signed a 10-year publishing agreement with Bungie to bring its "next big action game universe to market." 

Activision will have the rights to publish the new intellectual property "on multiple platforms and devices." Does this extend outside Xbox 360? The press release doesn't say, but it seems likely, and in a video released to the press, Activision COO Thompas Tippl said the partnership was about bringing Bungie's next universe to "the platform of your choice."

Bungie, like Respawn Entertainment, retains the rights to the intellectual property. Few details on the project were released, not even a codename or vague release date. For all we know, Bungie's next project is years away. According to the announcement release, the deal has been in the works "over the past nine months."

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April 14 will mark the end of an era for Bungie. Halo 2, the game that launched the studio into triple-A status and made headlines worldwide, will no longer be playable online. Microsoft is disconnecting the original Xbox Live servers as part of an internal restructuring, thus preventing games built on the original Xbox Live from functioning online. The last day for Halo 2 and several other games is April 14.

Bungie reacted as you might expected: they were bummed out but thankful for the fans.

"We're all saddened at the realization that an era is coming to an end," said the studio in a brief statement on their official website last Friday. "But looking back we're incredibly fortunate to have had such a great run and such strong support from our fans. Halo 2 has been at the top of the Xbox Live charts for original games since it launched over five years ago. We're extremely thankful to everyone who has played, enjoyed and supported Halo 2 over Xbox Live. We've had some great fun together, including far too many Humpday [where fans could fight it out with Bungie] losses to even recount."

The studio will be organizing a communal celebration for Halo 2's final hours online, but details haven't been worked out just yet. But it will involve "one final opportunity" to take down Bungie.

Fans were much more vocal about their disappointment, however, taking to the official Halo 2 forums on Bungie's website to swap memories about their time spent battling each other online.

"Damn, I wanna cry, Halo 2 is the reason I'm aiming to design game sin the future," said Sonic343.

"My first online gaming experience was Halo 2," responded Duardo. "The first time I played was November 9, 2004 at about 1:55 AM. I played one game of Basic Training on Ivory Tower and ended up in first place. Then I joined my friend for a custom game on Lockout."

Other users will be returning to the same spot as Duardo.

"It started out on Ivory Tower for me," said nashkid91. "That's where it's going to end."

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

We all know that Bungie's secret announcement ultimately failed two weeks ago during E3 2008, but the company has assured their fans that there are currently "three distinct projects" underway. Although Bungie is expected to appear on the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) starting August 29, they have no plans in making any "big announcements" during that time.

Rumors of the cancelled announcement were indicating of a new Halo title, possibily with the exclusion of Master Chief. But no matter what the possibilities are, we're sure Bungie will fill us in as soon as the time comes. And if you're attending PAX, make sure to check out the source to see what they have in store for you.


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