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I thought this story would fizzle out. If certain people had much any sense, it probably would have. Yet here we are.

Eurogamer has an exclusive interview coming up tomorrow with Microsoft's Xbox 360 boss Don Mattrick. They, of course, asked him about the cancelled Bungie announcement and the studio's reaction:

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Well, it's been awhile since COD4 and Halo 3 did the flip-flop on Major Nelson's ranking of top games on Xbox Live, but it's happened again: Halo 3 is number one, and COD4 is number two. Again.

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So a couple days ago I wrote a bit on how Bungie got the rug pulled out from under them at E3.

As near as the Intertubes can piece it together, a few days before E3, Microsoft let Bungie know they wouldn't be included in the press conference. Bungie then enacted contingency plans for their own announcement, which is what precipitated the countdown on Bungie.net.

On Tuesday Microsoft told Bungie they wouldn't be allowed to do that, either, and since Microsoft is Bungie's publisher for Halo games, and Microsoft owns the Halo intellectual property, and the announcement concerned Halo, Bungie had to do what Microsoft says, prompting Bungie president Harold Ryan's apology to the fans, which can also be interpreted as a nice polite way of flipping the bird to the publisher.

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Now, I'm not saying the whole Keep It Clean debacle doesn't deserve a couple thousand more words (which it surely will get) but I felt I couldn't let E3 week go by without comment on one of the announcements that Microsoft did feel was important enough to show-- namely, the impending renovation of the Xbox 360's dashboard interface in the fall of this year. Besides, I took a straw poll in HBO's irc server and this is the topic that won.

Then words begin to fail me and I long instead to wax poetic about publishing deals and PR tactics.

What to say, what to say...

I wrote a review of the Aeon Flux theatrical film a few years back on my own personal blog, and as a fan of Peter Chung's original cartoons, I was extremely disappointed. I wrote at the time that:

It is as if Paramount took a group of writers, locked them in a dark room with copies of the animated series, but gave them enough time to view only a small portion of them all, and then required them to write their notes about the series in crayon on the back of index cards. These index cards, out of order, were then handed to a completely different group of people, who then went on to make this film.

I can't help feeling that Microsoft has taken a team of interface designers, a Wii, and an Apple TV and done the same thing here. From the cartoony avatars you can see they're aware of the Wii. From the clean, white, sliding 3D interface you can tell they've seen an Apple TV, or at least Apple's Front Row program. Somehow, however, they either didn't quite grasp how or why those things worked and what was good about them, and managed to come up with something that bears only a passing resemblance to those two products, and are in the process of abandoning an interface that-- in classic Microsoft fashion-- after seven years has finally reached a "good enough" level of functionality.

If I'm lucky enough to have anyone at Microsoft involved in this project reading at this moment, let me emphatically state: please do not do this. As a last resort, I'd exhort you to make this interface optional. I know this to be a fruitless request since making things options rarely solves anything. All I can say, though, is that if this is the interface the 360 will be using in the future then I can see myself using it a lot less, and at least putting my console back to booting from disc on startup and bypassing the dashboard as much as possible.

If you haven't seen this thing yet, drop on over to GameTrailers, they have HD and SD versions of the walkthrough. Go ahead. I'll wait.

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Ah, the heady days of the early and mid 90s, when Bungie was an independent developer and publisher, master of its own destiny. They developed what they wanted to develop, announced when they wanted to announced, and shipped... well, when the boxes were done.

Those days must seem so simple compared to now.

Because what's going on now is apparently a Bungie announcement scheduled for E3 today-- one likely related to Halo in some way-- has been postponed indefinitely by Bungie's publisher.

That would be Microsoft, for those of you keeping score at home, even though the name "Microsoft" does not appear anywhere in the carefully-worded missive from Bungie president Harold Ryan.

Most fans, of course, don't care what happened or who is at fault. They just knew they were supposed to be seeing something exciting and new within the next twelve hours, and now they won't. For a form of popular entertainment whose fans vacillate back and forth between endurance trials of development waits-- three years for each of the last three Halo games-- and the instant gratification of online multiplayer matches where average lifetimes can be well under thirty seconds, such an indefinite delay is a great disappointment. Even if we don't know what it was we were supposed to be expecting.

So what were we expecting, when can we expect it, and why was it delayed just twelve hours before it was to hit?

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Three months and a week was all Halo 3 needed to become 2007's top selling game in the US market according to NPD, says Kotaku. It beat out Wii Play for the Nintendo console- you know, that title everybody bought to get the extra Wiimote.

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Next-Gen editor Colin Campbell takes a firm stance on behalf of publishers against game retailers that sell used games, calling the practice 'parasitic':

Used game sales are, in fact, a separate business to the game industry, one that is parasitical and offers little or no benefits to the business as a whole. If you look at the share-of-effort or the share-of-investment or the share-of-creativity that goes into making a game and bringing it to market, you have to wonder if this is a system that anyone could describe as being fair and just.

Predictably a lot of gamers find this position offensive. I do, and I don't even buy used games. I think if you buy a console game in a box and you want to sell it at some point, you should be free to do so. If a retailer wishes to assume the risk associated with used stock, and their clients are willing to buy it, more power to them. Calling the practice parasitic is simply missing the point. It's the kind of mentality that leads executives to take "sales we didn't make" and call it "lost revenue". It is disingenuous.

However I think the real problem here is one that Campbell's editorial doesn't even bother to tackle: which is that the fault for this practice falls squarely with the developers and publishers and with no one else.

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The questionable claim that "Halo 3 changed game development" made in this article over at GameGuide spurred OldNick into posting action again. What OldNick does think Bungie has a chance to teach the industry is how to coordinate large development teams-- a trend that seems destined to continue as development budgets soar ever higher.

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An article entitled [url=http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/482/how_halo_3_changed_game_.php]"How Halo 3 Changed Game Development"[/url] has recently drawn some (rather sceptical) attention [url=http://halo.bungie.org/news.html?item=21601]at HBO[/url] and here [url=http://rampancy.net/story/bungie/10/01/2008/Did_Halo_3_Change_Game_Devel... Rampa

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Ahead of NPD data, Microsoft is claiming that Halo 3 has sold over 8 million copies so far worldwide, and the 360 console 17.7 million, according to GameDaily.

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Okay, here's a crazy idea.

Like more than a few people, I was puzzled by Bungie's return to independence following the release of Halo 3. It didn't seem to make much sense.

Sure, it made sense for Bungie to want more autonomy. Even the friendliest chaperon is still something one would rather do without. Why did it make sense for Microsoft, though? Why negotiate for a sweet discount with the goose who laid the golden eggs when you used to own it lock, stock and barrel?

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Falling just one spot short of GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann getting the axe for his "tone", the story of Bungie flying the Microsoft coop makes #10 on Game Daily's list of big gaming stories in 2007:

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It shouldn't come as much surprise, but if someone owns an Xbox 360, odds are they'll also pick up Halo 3. So far 52 percent of the US installed base owns the game, according to GameDaily BIZ.


Rampant for over se7en years.



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Bungie's blockbuster Halo 3 has already sold over five million copies since its September launch. Full story from Slashdot.


Rampant for over se7en years.



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This really doesn't have anything to do with Bungie or gaming, per se... but former Bungie employee Pete Parsons just received $1 million in financing for his new tech startup, Fyreball, pitched as an "alternative to email" for tracking web messages and discussions.

For the full story see the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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