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Sony to buy Bungie, former Microsoft studio, for $3.6B in latest blockbuster video-game deal

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Bungie, the Bellevue, Wash.-based game developer that originally developed the platform-defining Halo franchise for Microsoft’s Xbox, has agreed to be acquired by Sony, maker of the competing PlayStation consoles, for $3.6 billion.

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s surprise announcement Monday comes two weeks after Microsoft struck a $68.7 billion deal for Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty and Candy Crush maker. It’s less than a year since Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda Softworks, known for Doom, Fallout, ElderScrolls, and Wolfenstein.

Best known in recent years for Destiny, a series of online multiplayer first-person shooter games, Bungie was spun out of Microsoft in 2007.

Bungie has found in Sony “a partner who unconditionally supports us in all we are and who wants to accelerate our vision to create generation-spanning entertainment, all while preserving the creative independence that beats in Bungie’s heart,” said Bungie CEO Pete Parsons in a post announcing the agreement.

The 900-person company, which is in the midst of a major expansion of its downtown Bellevue headquarters, will become an independent Sony Interactive Entertainment subsidiary, run by Bungie’s current management team and board, chaired by Parsons, Sony said in a press release announcing the deal.

Bungie CEO Pete Parsons. (Bungie Photo)

The flurry of deals raises new questions about the long-term future of cross-platform games and console exclusives, although Microsoft and Sony appear to be engaging in a short-term truce, at least.

Bungie will continue to self-publish games “and reach players wherever they choose to play,” Sony said. Bungie makes Destiny 2 for PlayStation, Xbox, and Windows,

Microsoft Xbox CEO Phil Spencer said after the Activision announcement that he spoke with Sony executives and “confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.”

There may be larger implications in Bungie’s experience in online games, bolstering Sony’s ability to compete with Microsoft’s online platforms. “This acquisition will give SIE access to Bungie’s world-class approach to live game services and technology expertise, furthering SIE’s vision to reach billions of players,” Sony said.

Microsoft originally bought Bungie in 2000, prompting the studio to discontinue its work on Halo for the Mac, to the reported frustration of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, making the original Halo: Combat Evolved for the original Xbox instead. Microsoft’s 343 Industries has developed the Halo franchise since the 2007 Bungie spin-off.

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