Bungie

Bungie

Infobox Company
company_name = Bungie, LLC
company_
type = Private (LLC), former subsidiary of Microsoft
foundation = May 1991
location = Kirkland, Washington, U.S.
key_people = Harold Ryan, President
Jason Jones
Martin O'Donnell
Joseph Staten
industry = Video game industry
products = Video games
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees =~120 [cite web|author=Smith, Luke|date=2008-05-16|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&cid=13795|title=Bungie Weekly Update: 5/16/2008|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-05-21]
homepage = [http://bungie.net bungie.net]
Bungie is an American video game developer founded in May 1991 under the name "Bungie Software Products Corporation" by two undergraduate students at the University of Chicago, Alex Seropian and Jason Jones. Originally based in Chicago, the company concentrated primarily on Macintosh games during its first nine years of existence, producing the popular "Marathon" and "Myth" series as well as games such as "Oni". In 2000, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft, and their current project "" was turned into a first-person shooter and launch title for Microsoft's new Xbox game console. "Halo" went on to become the Xbox's "killer app", and the game and its two sequels have sold millions of copies.

On October 5, 2007, Bungie announced that it had split with Microsoft and become a privately held independent company, Bungie LLC.fact|date=October 2008 Despite splitting from Microsoft, the studio will still be producing products for Xbox 360 but is free to develop for other platforms. Bungie is an independent developer, currently based in Kirkland, Washington.

Among Bungie's side projects are Bungie.net, the company's official website, which includes forums as well as statistics-tracking and integration with "Halo 3" and "Halo 2", respectively. Bungie also sells company-related merchandise and runs other projects including an official Bungie podcast and online publications about game topics. The company is well-known for its informal and dedicated workplace culture, and is currently working on multiple projects, including "" and "Halo 3" downloadable content.

History

Founding

Bungie officially was founded in May 1991 by Alex Seropian and Jason Jones. The origin of the name "Bungie" is the subject of conflicting answers. Many in the company treat it as a closely guarded secret,cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/Inside/content.aspx?link=HistoryOfBungie_p1|title=Promordial Soup: Gnop!|work=Bungie.net|date=2007-03-06|accessdate=2007-10-08|author=Achronos, Tom] while a bonus disc provided in the "Halo 3" Legendary Edition states the name is "the punchline to a dirty joke", the explanation has been used before by Bungie for other questions as explanations for other company secrets. [cite web|author=Staff|date=1996-10-15|url=http://marathon.bungie.org/story/bungienewsletter.html|title=The Bungie Newsletter Vol. I Issue 1|work=Marathon.Bungie.Org|accessdate=2008-03-01] According to the "Marathon Scrapbook" Seropian "agonized over what he would name his company, finally settling on 'Bungie' because 'it sounded fun.'"cite web|author=Sinclair, Hamish|date=2004-04-11|url=http://marathon.bungie.org/story/scrapbook.html|title=Marathon's Story... Facts|work=Marathon.Bungie.Org|accessdate=2008-03-01]

The company's first game was called "Gnop!" ("Pong" spelled backwards) and was offered free of charge. The team focused on the Macintosh platform, not Windows-based personal computers, because the Mac market was more open and Jones had been raised on the platform. Following "Gnop!", Bungie produced "Operation Desert Storm", which went on to sell 2,500 copies, and the role-playing game "" in 1992.

Bungie next began working on their first 3D game, "Pathways into Darkness", which was released in 1993. "Pathways" was produced by a two-man team consisting of Jones and his friend Colin Brendt.cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/inside/history.aspx?link=pathways|title=Promordial Soup: Pathways|work=Bungie.net|date=2007-03-06|accessdate=2007-10-08|author=Achronos, Tom] The game was a moderate hit, and attracted attention and money to the company. Bungie moved into their first studio soon afterwards; Martin O'Donnell remembered that the studio "smelled like a frat house" and reminded staff of a locale from the "Silent Hill" video games.cite video |people= O’Connor, Frank; O'Donnell, Martin; Smith, Luke|date2=2007-12-12 |title=Official Bungie Podcast: With Martin O'Donnell |url= http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/5/d85ce76f-0cb2-41df-aaae-a8c96790332b/Bungie_Podcast_121207.mp3|format=MP3 |medium= |publisher=Bungie Studios |accessdate=2008-02-28 |time= |quote= ]

"Marathon", "Myth", and "Oni"

Bungie's next project began as a loose sequel to "Pathways into Darkness", but evolved into a futuristic first person shooter called "Marathon".cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/inside/history.aspx?link=juggernougat|title=Promordial Soup: Marathon|work=Bungie.net|date=2007-03-06|accessdate=2007-10-08|author=Bungie] The first games success led to a sequel, "", which was later the first game Bungie ported to Windows 95.cite video |people=Bungie Studios |date2=2004-09-12 |month2= |year2= |title=Icons: Bungie |url=http://www.wraith-ops.com/hbomirror/Bungie_Icons.mov |format= MOV|medium= |publisher=G4TV |accessdate=2008-03-14 |time= |quote= ] The series introduced several elements, including cooperative mode, which made their way to later Bungie games.

Bungie's success gave rise to a large third-party developer community as well as a short-lived newsletter published through BBS. Following the success of "Marathon", Bungie released the "Myth" series of games, which stressed tactical unit management as opposed to the resource gathering model of other combat strategy titles. The "Myth" games won several awards and spawned a large and active online community, and (like the "Marathon" series) are still being actively maintained, [cite web|url=http://www.projectmagma.net/about/|title=About Page|work=ProjectMagma.net|accessdate=2008-03-01|author=Project Magma|year=2008] developed for, [cite web|url=http://tain.totalcodex.net/|title=The Tain: File Archives|work=Tain. TotalCodex.net|accessdate=2008-02-29] played over the internet, [cite web|url=http://www.mariusnet.com/|title=Mariusnet Home|accessdate=MariusNet.com|accessdate=2008-03-03] and discussed in forums by fans. "Myth: The Fallen Lords" was the first Bungie game to be released simultaneously for both Mac and Windows platforms.cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/inside/history.aspx?link=Myth|title=Promordial Soup: Juggernougat|work=Bungie.net|date=2007-03-06|accessdate=2007-10-08|author=Bungie] In 1997, Bungie established Bungie West, a studio in California.cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/inside/history.aspx?link=oni|title=Promordial Soup: The Juggernaut and Oni|work=Bungie.net|date=2007-03-06|accessdate=2007-10-08|author=Bungie] Bungie West's first and only game would be "Oni", an action title for the Mac, PC and PlayStation 2.

"Halo" and buyout

In 1999, Bungie announced its next product, "", as a first-person action game for Windows and Macintosh.cite web | last=Lopez | first=Vincent |date=1999-07-21|url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/068/068975p1.html | title= Heavenly Halo Announced from Bungie |work=IGN| accessmonthday= August 31 | accessyear=2006 ] "Halo"'s public unveiling occurred at the Macworld Expo 1999 keynote address by Apple's then-interim-CEO Steve Jobs (after a closed-door screening at E3 in 1999).

On June 19, 2000, soon after "Halo"'s preview at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2000, Microsoft announced that it had acquired Bungie Software and that Bungie would become a part of the Microsoft Game Division under the name Bungie Studios. "Halo" would be developed as an exclusive title for the Xbox. The reasons for Bungie accepting Microsoft's offer were varied. Jones stated that "I don't remember the details exactly, it was all a blur. We'd been talking to people for years and years – before we even published "Marathon", Activision made a serious offer. But the chance to work on Xbox – the chance to work with a company that took the games seriously. Before that we worried that we'd get bought by someone who just wanted Mac ports or didn't have a clue."cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/inside/history.aspx?link=oni|title=Billion Dollar Donut: Halo CE|work=Bungie.net|date=2007-03-06|accessdate=2007-10-08|author=Bungie] Martin O'Donnell, who had joined Bungie as an employee only ten days before the merger was announced, remembers that the stability of the Xbox as a development platform was not the only benefit. Around the same time, it was discovered that Asian versions of "Myth II" could entirely erase a player's hard drive; the glitch led to a massive recall of the games right before they shipped, which cost Bungie nearly one million dollars. O'Donnell stated in a Bungie podcast that this recall created some economic uncertainty, although accepting the offer was not something "Bungie had to do." Seriopan and Jones had refused to accept Microsoft's offer until the entire studio agreed to the buyout.

As a result of the buyout, the rights to "Oni" were sold to Take-Two Interactive as part of the three way deal between Microsoft, Bungie and Take-Two; most of the original "Oni" developers were able to continue working on "Oni" until its release in 2001. [cite web|author=Soell, Matt|date=2001-02-09| url=http://www.haloplayers.com/features/haloupdates/index?981770817| archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20010413012925/http://www.haloplayers.com/features/haloupdates/index?981770817|archivedate=2001-04-13|title= Halo Weekly Update|work=HaloPlayers|accessdate=2008-03-06] "Halo: Combat Evolved", meanwhile, went on to become a critically acclaimed hit, selling more than 6.5 million copies,cite web |author=Asher Moses |date=2007-08-30 |url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/biztech/prepare-for-allout-war/2007/08/30/1188067256196.html |title=Prepare for all-out war |publisher=The Sydney Morning Herald |accessdate=2008-02-02 |quote=] and becoming the Xbox's flagship franchise.cite web | date=2006-08-06 | url=http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-9020_7-6556686-1.html | title=Xbox 360 games we can't wait to play | work=CNET | accessmonthday=September 7 | accessyear= 2006 ]

"Halo"'s success led to Bungie creating two sequels. "Halo 2" was released on November 9, 2004, making more than $125 million on release day and setting a record in the entertainment industry. [cite web|url=http://www.gamespot.com/news/2004/11/10/news_6112915.html|title=Microsoft raises estimated first-day Halo 2 sales to $125 million-plus|work=GameSpot|accessdate=2006-03-15|last = Thorsen|first = Tor|date=2004-11-10] "Halo 3", the final installment in the "Halo" trilogy, was released on September 25, 2007 and surpassed "Halo 2"'s records, making $170 million in its first twenty-four hours of release [cite web|author=Terdiman, Daniel|date=2007-09-26|url=http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9785731-7.html|title=Microsoft: 'Halo 3' nets biggest day in entertainment history|work=CNET|accessdate=2008-03-06] and becoming the most pre-ordered game in history. [cite web|author=Microsoft|date=2007-10-04|url=http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/h/halo3/news/20071004-oneweeksales.htm|title=Halo 3 Records more than $300 Million in First-Week Sales|work=Xbox.com|accessdate=2008-02-29] Bungie also established partnerships with Ensemble Studios and Wingnut Interactive to produce two additional "Halo" titles, "Halo Wars" and "" respectively.

Independent company

On October 1, 2007, a mere six days after the release of "Halo 3", Microsoft and Bungie announced that Bungie was splitting off from its parent and becoming a privately-held Limited Liability Company named Bungie LLC.cite web|author=O'Connor, Frank|date=2007-10-05|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=news&cid=12835|title=Bungie Studios Becomes Privately Held Independent Company|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-02-12] As outlined in a deal between the two, Microsoft would retain a minority stake and continue to partner with Bungie on publishing and marketing both "Halo" and future projects, with the "Halo" intellectual property belonging to Microsoft.cite web|author=O'Connor, Frank|date=2007-10-05|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&cid=12834|title=Bungie Weekly What's Update|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-03-06] Although non-"Halo" projects in the future are unknown; Bungie has stated that "Halo 3" is probably not the last "Halo" game they will make, and that Microsoft is still working with Peter Jackson of Wingnut Interactive on '. [cite web|author=Klepek, Patrick|date=2007-10-05|url=http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3163440|title=Bungie Discusses Leaving Microsoft|work=1UP.com|accessdate=2008-03-07] No other projects have been officially announced; while Bungie planned on an announcement at E3 2008, Bungie studio head Harold Ryan announced that the unveiling was cancelled. [cite web|author=Snow, Blake|date=2008-07-15|url=http://www.gamepro.com/news.cfm?article_id=202648|title=Bungie cancels announcement of surprise E3 game |work=GamePro|accessdate=2008-07-16] Since then, Bungie has dropped hints that several projects are in progress, [cite web|author=Smith, Luke|date=2007-07-18|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&cid=14814|title=Bungie Weekly Update: 7/18/08|publisher=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-07-21] and announced one new project, a prequel to "Halo 3" entitled '.

Bungie.net

Bungie.net serves as the main official portal for interaction between company staff and the community surrounding Bungie's games. The "News" area of the site contains information about events in the community, project news, and weekly postings called "Bungie Weekly Updates". Bungie.net also features forums where users can interact. When Bungie was bought by Microsoft, the site was originally seen as in competition with Microsoft's own Xbox.com site, but community management eventually won out as the bigger concern. The website also contains screenshots, blogs, and a media player. [cite web|author=O'Connor, Frank|date=2007-03-19|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=bungienetrelaunch|title=Welcome to the Future of Bungie.net|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-03-12]

Bungie.net profiles can link to player's Xbox Live accounts and display their Bungie game achievements and statistics. Detailed information about each game of "Halo 2" and "Halo 3" played is recorded, and can be viewed using the "My Stats" area of the website.cite video |people= Jerrard, Brian; O’Connor, Frank; O'Donnell, Marty; Smith, Luke; Staten, Joseph; &c|date2=2007-08-20 |title=Official Bungie Podcast: Pre-Halo 3 |url= http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/5/d85ce76f-0cb2-41df-aaae-a8c96790332b/Bungie_Podcast_092007.mp3|format=MP3 |medium= |publisher=Bungie Studios |accessdate=2008-03-14 |time= |quote= ] This information includes statistics on each player in the game, and a map of the game level showing where kills occurred. [cite web|author=Bramwell, Tom|date=2007-11-12|url=http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=87360|title=Bungie intros Halo 3 Heatmaps|work=Eurogamer|accessdate=2008-03-10]

Culture

Martin O'Donnell described Bungie's workplace culture as "a slightly irreverent attitude, and not corporate, bureaucratic or business-focused";cite web|author=Fear, Ed|date=2007-11-08|url=http://www.developmag.com/interviews/95/Single-Player|title=Single Player|work=DevelopMagazine|accessdate=2008-03-06] artist Shi Kai Wang noted that when he walked into Bungie for an interview, "I realized that I was the one who was over-dressed, [and] I knew this was the place I wanted to work."cite web|url=http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/h/halo/themakers2.htm|title=Shi Kai Wang, Bungie Artist|work=Xbox.com|author=Leigh, Violet|accessdate=2008-02-01] Frank O'Connor comically noted that at a Gamestop conference, the Bungie team was told to wear business casual, to which O'Connor replied "We [Bungie] don't do business casual." This informal, creative culture was one of the reasons Microsoft was interested in acquiring Bungie.cite web|author=Bungie|date=2000-05-11|url=http://halo.bungie.org/misc/msacquisitionfaq/Bungie|title=Bungie-Microsoft FAQ|work=Halo.Bungie.Org|accessdate=2008-03-03] Studio head Harold Ryan emphasized that even when Bungie was bought by Microsoft, the team was still independent:

One of the first things [Microsoft] tried after acquiring Bungie, after first attempting to fully assimilate them, was to move Bungie into a standard Microsoft building with the rest of the game group. But unlike the rest of the teams they’d brought in previously, Bungie didn’t move into Microsoft corporate offices – we tore all of the walls out of that section of the building and sat in a big open environment. Luckily Alex and Jason [Seriopian and Jones, Bungie’s founders] were pretty steadfast at the time about staying somewhat separate and isolated.
Microsoft eventually moved the studio to Kirkland, Washington, where the company has stayed since. Despite the move, financial analyst Roger Ehrenberg declared the Bungie-Microsoft marriage "doomed to fail" due to these fundamental differences.cite web|url=http://seekingalpha.com/article/49310-microsoft-bungie-divorce-was-inevitable|title=Microsoft/Bungie Divorce Was Inevitable|work=SeekingAlpha|date=2007-10-09|author=Ehrenberg, Roger|accessdate=2008-03-10] Bungie also pointed out that they were tired of new intellectual property being cast aside to work on the "Halo" franchise. "Edge" described the typical Bungie employee as "simultaneously irreverent and passionately loyal; fiercely self-critical; full of excitement at the company’s achievements, no matter how obscure; [and] recruited from its devoted fanbase."cite web|author=Staff|date=2007-01-01|url=http://www.edge-online.co.uk/archives/2007/01/inside_bungie.php|title=Inside Bungie|work=Edge|accessdate=2008-03-10|archivedate=2008-07-10|archiveurl=http://209.85.215.104/search?q=cache:q_-bJR55t78J:www.edge-online.co.uk/archives/2007/01/inside_bungie.php+inside+bungie+edge&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=safari]

The Bungie workplace is highly informal, with new and old staff willing to challenge each other on topics, such as fundamental game elements. Staff are able to publicly criticize their own games and each other.cite video |people= Allen, Christian; Jarrard, Brian; O’Connor, Frank; Smith, Luke|date2=2008-02-04 |title=Official Bungie Podcast: With Christian Allen |url= http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/5/d85ce76f-0cb2-41df-aaae-a8c96790332b/Bungie_Podcast_020408.mp3|format=MP3 |medium= |publisher=Bungie Studios |accessdate=2008-03-06 |time= |quote= ] Fostering studio cooperation and competition, Bungie holds events such as the "Bungie Pentathlon", in which staff square off in teams playing games such as "Halo", "Pictionary", "Dance Dance Revolution", and "Rock Band". Bungie also faces off against professional eSports teams and other game studios in "Halo" during "Humpdays", with the results of the multiplayer matches being posted on Bungie.net. [cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&cid=12924|title=Humpday Challenge: Geezer Gamers|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-03-11|date=2007-11-01|author=Smith, Luke]

Bungie's staff and fans, known as the "Underground Army", have also banded together for charity and other causes. After Hurricane Katrina, Bungie was one of several game companies to announce their intention to help those affected by the hurricane, with Bungie donating the proceeds of special t-shirts to the American Red Cross. [cite web|author=Caldwell, Patrick|date=2006-07-07|url=http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/action/halo2/news.html?sid=6153681|title=Halo 2 headset price cut for charity|work=Gamespot|accessdate=2008-03-12] [cite web|author=Klepek, Patrick|date=2005-09-01|url=http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3143372|title=Bungie Aiding Flood Victims|work=1UP.com|accessdate=2008-03-12] [cite web|archivedate=2007-02-03|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070203064238/http://www.bungie.net/News/Story.aspx?link=432C68F9-B0B4-4CB9-A1A3-D37B498CA6F6|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/Story.aspx?link=432C68F9-B0B4-4CB9-A1A3-D37B498CA6F6|title=Flood Relief|author=Jarrard, Brian|date=2005-08-31|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-03-01] Other charity work Bungie has done included auctioning off a painting of "Mister Chief" by Frank O'Connor, [cite web|date=2008-02-14|author=Webster, Andrew|url=http://arstechnica.com/journals/thumbs.ars/2008/02/14/bungie-studios-auctioning-off-painting-for-charity|title=Bungie Studios Auctioning off painting for Charity|work=Arstechnica|accessdate=2008-03-15] a "Halo 2" soda machine from Bungie's offices, [cite web|author=Smith, Luke|date=2008-03-20|title=That is One Charitable Soda Machine|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=news&cid=13391|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-03-25] and collaborating with Child's Play auctions. [cite web|author=Bertone, Paul|title=Child's Play Charity Dinner|date=2006-12-18|accessdate=2008-03-10|work=Bungie.net|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=bsftw] Bungie also responded to a story about a gamer who lost all the personalization on his Xbox 360 when Microsoft repaired his console by sending the gamer an autographed Master Chief helmet and other swag. [cite web|date=2008-03-07|author=Topolsky, Josh|url=http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/07/gamers-erased-xbox-360-story-comes-to-a-happy-close/|title=Gamers' Erased 360 Story Comes to a Happy Close|work=Engadget|accessdate=2008-03-16]

Offshoot companies

Many of Bungie's employees have left the company to form their own studios. Double Aught was a short-lived company comprised of several former Bungie team members, founded by Greg Kirkpatrick. The company helped Bungie develop "", the last game in the "Marathon" series. Wideload Games, creator of "Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse"", is another company that came from Bungie; It is headed by one of the two Bungie founders, Alex Seropian, and 7 out of the 11 employees previously worked at Bungie. Other companies include Giant Bite, founded by Hamilton Chu (former lead producer of Bungie Studios), and Michal Evans (former Bungie programmer), [cite web|url=http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2006/09/developer_focus.html |title=Developer Focus: Giant Bite Pursues Life After Halo|work=San Jose Mercury News|date=2006-09-16|author=Takahashi, Dean|accessdate= 2008-03-03] and Certain Affinity. Founded by Max Hoberman (the multiplayer design lead for "Halo 2" and "Halo 3"), the team of nine includes former Bungie employees David Bowman & Chad Armstrong (who later returned to Bungie) as well as folks from other developers. It collaborated with Bungie in releasing the last two maps for "Halo 2". [cite web|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=certainaffinitymaps|title=New Halo 2 Maps revealed!|work=Bungie.net|accessdate=2008-03-06|date=2007-03-30|author=O'Connor, Frank]

References

External links

* [http://www.bungie.net Official homepage]
* [http://www.bungie.net/Inside/content.aspx?link=HistoryOfBungie_p1 Inside Bungie: History]
* [http://www.bungie.org Unofficial Bungie fan site]
* [http://bungie.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page Bungie Studios Wikia]


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