Every so often you'll hear detractors of the Halo brand talk about the franchise being “milked”. While these kind of negative assertions are oftentimes brushed off by the community, they apparently hold more weight with the people who made Halo famous in the first place. Ensemble Studios recently revealed that Halo Wars may have been a step too far and was an attempt to whore the franchise out, according to Bungie.
Gameindustry.biz landed an interview with Tony Goodman, former founder of Ensemble Studios, a company responsible for the real-time strategy game, Halo Wars for the Xbox 360. The studio didn't last long and just before the game released Microsoft shut the studio down. According to Goodman, that's just one of the dangers of working with a publisher, the other problem is handling someone else's IP...
So we started with Halo Wars, which I think turned out to be a really fantastic, under-recognized product. But Bungie was kind of sore about the idea. What they called it was "the whoring out of our franchise" or something. Yeah, that didn't create a great relationship between us and Bungie; they viewed us as someone infringing [on their franchise]. So those are some of the dangers of working with a publisher.
The interview itself is headlined as "The publisher as we know it may become extinct", pulled from one of Goodman's comments about the relationship between developers and publishers. His sentiments are foreign in the least, as other developers have come forward about the difficulties and dangers of working with a publisher. Most recently there was the incident involving Obsidian who was being goaded to do a Kickstarter on behalf of a publisher who wanted gamers to front the money while they retained the rights to the IP and the profits.
As for Bungie feeling like Halo Wars was whoring out the franchise...I don't know, it wasn't anymore whoring than Halo: ODST or Halo: Anniversary Edition. Those two games seemed more whorish than Halo Wars, which at least broke some new ground for the franchise and introduced console gamers to a quality RTS game, something that has been pretty much absent throughout most of this generation of console gaming.
But if Bungie thought Halo Wars was encroaching “whore” status, I'm curious what they think about the now annual-release of Halo games that Microsoft has established with the franchise?
You can check out the entire interview over at Gameindustry.biz