They're Random, Baby!

Interview with Brian Jarrard and Joe Staten, April 29, 2010

moar nipsOn April 29, 2010, Bungie announced that they'd entered into an exclusive 10-year partnership with Activision to bring "Bungie's next big action game universe to market." This came as quite a surprise to most people; the negotiations were kept very, very quiet. In an attempt to alleviate some fears that Bungie fans might be having over this new relationship, we sat down with Brian Jarrard, Community Guy, and Joe Staten, Design Director, to talk about the situation. They seemed to be... in a pretty good mood.

Miguel Chavez: There was a bombshell announcement made recently that's all the buzz on the internet. We're here w/ Brian and Joe of Bungie, and they promise to answer the question on everyone's mind:

Brian Jarrard: These money pants are chafing me.

Miguel Chavez: Why did Pro Wrestling starlet Chyna beat up on another chick?

Brian Jarrard: Oh wait we started, scratch that...

Joe Staten: Where's the key to my Ferrari?

Claude Errera: I hate you all.

Miguel Chavez: OK, just kidding. The real question: Bungie is moving to Arizona to support the legal immigrant population?

Joe Staten: I mean my Corolla (seriously).

Brian Jarrard: Chyna clearly has anger issues, stemming from her childhood.

Miguel Chavez: All right, enough of that: When will Halo: CE come out for Windows 7?

Claude Errera: Wait, there are legal immigrants?

Brian Jarrard: this transcript = gold

Miguel Chavez: No one's touching my lawn unless they are Claude.

Claude Errera: I'm pretty sure there are still some groups we haven't insulted yet.

Joe Staten: Marty is insulted in absentia.

Claude Errera: Goes without saying.

Miguel Chavez: The fans are noticeably upset. I mean, it's like even the naysayers have figured out how to twist their panties just a *little* bit tighter. But I think there's precedent here vis a vis Bungie's initial arrangement with Microsoft over a decade ago. Is it fair to assume that since Bungie came out of that not only alive but stronger than it's ever been that the same will happen here w/ Activision?

Brian Jarrard: Halo CE on Win7 eh? Great topic for your next chat with 343i.

This deal is most definitely not like Microsoft's acquisition of Bungie.

We have more resources and more freedom than we've ever had as a studio.

Thus, the Bungie team is now in position to do what it does best - make awesome games, universes and stories. And know that it will reach a large audience.

Joe Staten: We've learned a lot over the last 10 years. And not only survived, but gotten stronger. The same creative core that made Halo is still here, still full of great ideas -- and now with the freedom and support to go even bigger than before.

Brian Jarrard: And the most important point here to us when we approached any publisher was to stay true to what's most important to our studio.

We are independent, we own our new IP and we have creative control over the games we make.

Activision was all in favor of letting us do what we do best.

Claude Errera: So what are THEY getting out of this deal?

Miguel Chavez: They can play the Reach Beta.

Brian Jarrard: Tons of money from colossal sales of games based on Bungie's next awesome universe?

Activision is a publicly traded company, they are a business. Our track record shows that we make great games that sell. They like that. They also know that our success stems from how we work and operate as a team.

Miguel Chavez: One thing you mentioned in another interview is that you have say over pricing. What's the breadth of that?

Brian Jarrard: I was thinking we'd use a front page poll on Bnet to determine all pricing decisions.

Joe Staten: They get a great creative partner. We get a great business partner. Really is as simple as that.

Brian Jarrard: We aren't naive to think that we have all the answers of running the business of games...

In fact, that's specifically not our forte.

But we do get to guide decisions and nothing will happen that we're not both in agreement over.

Joe Staten: New IP boxer shorts?

Brian Jarrard: If Bungie wants 'em, Bungie will get 'em.

Claude Errera: I want 'em.

Joe Staten: I'm already wearing them. Ka-ZING-go!

Miguel Chavez: I'll buy that for a dollar!

Brian Jarrard: But it won't happen unless we want it to.

Claude Errera: I'm sure Mig has lots of really deep questions, but I was wondering roughly how long this deal's been in the works - and how the HELL you kept it so quiet?

Brian Jarrard: Well our team has been out on the road talking to prospective partners for roughly a year now, but the Activision talks began in earnest about 9 months ago.

Joe Staten: Also, Harold is a hunter and an excellent shot. And man, as we all know, is the greatest game.

Brian Jarrard: We just signed the formal "long-form" contract this week, which was the impetus for this announcement.

Miguel Chavez: It seems that you've gotten a little closer to discussing this new IP that's been kept so close to Bungie's chest (nipple level). Can you let us know what familiar names are currently involved?

Brian Jarrard: have you seen the nipples in Birth of a Spartan?

...i digress...

Joe Staten: All the same core folks that shipped Halo, including the elusive Jason Jones. I've been working fulltime on the new thing since ODST shipped.


Brian Jarrard: Lots of old guard folks.

It's a brand new action game universe.

Claude Errera: Yeah, I read that.

Brian Jarrard: Then why'd you ask?

Claude Errera: It'll take everyone you've got to pull it off.

Brian Jarrard: wasting critical interview time!

Claude Errera: :(

Joe Staten: That's a good point.

It really will take the whole creative might of Bungie.

And we're extremely excited about getting all the Reach folks up here fulltime come Fall.

Miguel Chavez: Does your relationship with Microsoft change w/ this new Activision dealie-o?

Brian Jarrard: Going forward, yes, it will.

For now, no. We're still close partners and we still have Reach to finish and then some post-launch support.

Eventually though, we'll just be working on our new IP with Activision.

Claude Errera: who handles promotion? Is that all publisher stuff... or studio stuff now, too?

Brian Jarrard: You mean like future space nipple commercials?

Claude Errera: yes.

Brian Jarrard: Well ultimately, they have the resources and muscle and marketing expertise to do all the heavy lifting, but we'll very much be guiding how/what/when/where our games are promoted, even more so than we've been able to in the past.

Claude Errera: So... no more space nipples. :(

Joe Staten: Never say never!

Brian Jarrard: It's a partnership though, again, we're a game company more than a marketing company, but we do like to think we know our audience.

Miguel Chavez: You mentioned that before: that Bungie works best when everyone's pulling (tugjob) together. Does this mean that we'll never see a Bungie that can juggle multiple IPs?

Brian Jarrard: Confirmed: joe wants moar nips.

Claude Errera: Who doesn't?

Miguel Chavez: I could stand to never see Chyna's man-nips again.

Brian Jarrard: Not sure I understand your fascination with Chyna... but ok.

Joe Staten: Not necessarily. But for the foreseeable future, you're going to see a Bungie laser-focused on making Reach great and then making the new universe as great as we need it to be for the next 10 years (at least).

Brian Jarrard: Wow, my kid will almost be driving a car by then...

Claude Errera: So... World of Phoenix confirmed?

Miguel Chavez: My kid will probably be servicing your car by then.

Joe Staten: Might I recommend a gently used Corolla?

Brian Jarrard: (Think marty will make it?)

Joe Staten: Don't tempt fate...

Miguel Chavez: So with this all going on over the past few months... did the Activision 'problems' inform your negotiations in particular?

Brian Jarrard: Not at all - our discussions really predated all the recent public noise.

From my perspective I just regret that the timing is such that this great announcement for us falls on top of a lot of other noise.

Joe Staten: Keep in mind, the deal we were working on was fundamentally different than the other situation. We remain independent. We own our creations.

Brian Jarrard: And its understandable and expected that people would react with skepticism or even negativity based on their current perception of Activision.

Miguel Chavez: Did you ever meet with now ex-CEO Mike Griffith? Was he an initial supporter of all this?

Joe Staten: No. But we did spend considerable time meeting and working with the Activision executive team. And I have to say, they -- more than any of the other potential partners -- were the ones most supportive of our creative vision.

They understand the kind of universe we want to make, and what it will mean to our fans. And they are happy not to stand in our way.

Miguel Chavez: How were the Bungie employees informed?

Brian Jarrard: We had an internal meeting a few days ago, as soon as we knew it was locked.

Miguel Chavez: I take it everyone was on board?

Brian Jarrard: Main priority was making sure our team didnt read about it on the web first.

Actually yes, it went over very well, once you really look at the deal itself it's hard to argue with it and how it aligns with our priorities as a studio and our vision for the future.

Joe Staten: Not just on board, but excited. Because they knew we had finally achieved our goals set down when we spun out from MS: remain independent, own our creations, have the financial support to do what we do best: make kick ass games that we (and you!) like to play.

Brian Jarrard: *SIZZLE*

Miguel Chavez: Halo 2 came out when?

5 yrs ago?

Joe Staten: I forget... how did that game end?

Brian Jarrard: we've had ongoing open dialog with the whole team and the bungie leadership group and jason himself, everyone has had opportunities to ask anything on their mind


Claude Errera: OMG I heard that in my head. Sung by you.

I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Brian Jarrard: We still strive to one day make a boy cry in a demo theater again...

Miguel Chavez: OK, 6 yrs ago.

Brian Jarrard: With this new partnership, we can achieve that.

Miguel Chavez: So would it be safe to say that Reach will stay viable on XBL, even with this changed relationship, for a good number of years?

Brian Jarrard: i would certainly hope so. like any bungie game, it'll have a lot to offer fans.

Miguel Chavez: Joe, what kind of literature are the old-school Bungie folks reading nowadays?

Joe Staten: Well, we all have kids now, so: Dora, Dr. Seuss, Thomas the Tank Engine.

Joe Staten: You know, cutting edge sci-fi stuff.

Brian Jarrard: Edutainment Title confirmed!

Miguel Chavez: besides this: http://image3.examiner.com/images/blog/wysiwyg/image/CHYNA__2.jpg

Claude Errera: dude...

So are there any words of reassurance you'd like to offer fans who are dismayed that Bungie is now on the road to financial ruin?

Miguel Chavez: Yes, what kind of luggage do we pack as we leave this sinking ship?

Brian Jarrard: lol so by being fully funded to create our most ambitious universe and games ever, we're on the road to financial ruin?

Joe Staten: Jones and I are in an informal competition to read as much shlocky sci-fi as quickly as possible. So far, he's winning.

Miguel Chavez: Hmm, so no hints to inform the next title... grrrrr

Brian Jarrard: I think Marty is just into book tapes now, fading eyesight and all that..

Joe Staten: There's no way we would have signed this deal if we thought it would hurt us, our creative process, the games we will make or -- most importantly -- our community of fans. It just wouldn't have happened.

Brian Jarrard: For fans who are concerned - i guess i'd just say, trust us. like joe says, we wouldn't do anything that jeopardizes our team, our creative process or vision or our future.

Ultimately if it's that big of a deal, just pretend this announcement never happened and wait until we have new awesome stuff to show and talk about.


Miguel Chavez: lets wrap this up I wanna play some Reach Beta.

Brian Jarrard: Bungie is making the game, Activision is making it so people can actually play the games.

You bastard - we have hours of phone calls to go.

Claude Errera: rofl

Miguel Chavez: heh

Claude Errera: Don't worry - we'll save a spot for you.

Joe Staten: By the time I get on, all the noobs will be vets!

Brian Jarrard: The internet is fickle, I'm sure by the time we have real stuff to show and talk about, available on more platforms than before, people won't care so much who ships it to them.


Brian Jarrard: Not sure we really shed any new light on anything, but ultimately time will tell, Bungie will deliver as we always have and we'll still be grateful to our fan community for their support... even those who doubt us.

Miguel Chavez: Take a hint: make a Bungie iPad app.

Brian Jarrard: I'd buy that!

Claude Errera: MINOTAUR

Joe Staten: Somewhere... Jason's younger self just wept a satisfied tear.

Claude Errera: heh

Brian Jarrard: is Miguel still technically Bungies #1 Fan?

Joe Staten: I think he'll need to wrestle Chyna for that.

Claude Errera: Yah, but there are a lot of up-and-comers who want to fight him.

Miguel Chavez: According to the bracelet around my ankle. yes. You don't want the alternative.

Claude Errera: (Not Chyna)

Brian Jarrard: ok I like where you're going with that...

Miguel Chavez: Cody's asked for the mantle, believe it or not.

Brian Jarrard: last man standing...

Fight it out.

Claude Errera: THUNDERDOME

Brian Jarrard: (anything else? i think we have another call looming)

(not that we dont love you)

Claude Errera: thanks to both of you for the time!

Brian Jarrard: no, thank YOU

Miguel Chavez: Thanks to both of you!