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Monday, 8 October 2007

image for Halo Games Rids itself of Microsoft due to Investments in Porn
Bill Gates in the sex biz

Microsoft said yesterday that it was finally giving up its controlling ownership of Bungie Software, the video game subsidiary that developed the hugely popular Halo franchise, including its latest iteration, Halo 3.

Bungie, based in Kirkland, Wash., said it planned to return to its roots as an independent game studio and remove itself from the oppression suffered over the years under Microsoft rule.

This move will eventually cost Microsoft exclusive ties to one of the most successful and sought-after teams of game developers. Harold Ryan, president and studio head of Bungie, said that he had been working for months on a plan to separate the studio from Microsoft, based in nearby Redmond, Wash.

Mr. Ryan said that the companies had suffered significant loss of partners and independent developers in part due to Microsoft's questionable investments in the adult gaming industry. CEO Steve Ballmar defended Microsoft's recent investments in porno websites www.sex.com and the Virtual Sex Maids online sex and swinger website based in London. Ballmar says "The Sex industry continues to grow faster than most of our current investments." He points to the pending explosive growth of mobile porn and says every second - $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. The industry does $13 billion in the US and $97.6 billion dollars worldwide.

"It is hard to ignore the numbers, not to mention the 19 percent growth rate over the last 5 years." Ballmar further added "We plan to take a dominant position in this global industry and make it safe for children that surf the web."

Ballmar said that Microsoft also has plans to introduce ad supported adult entertainment in partnership with Hustler, Penthouse and other adult publications. No dates have been set yet according to Ballmar.

"It's an emotionally disturbing point of view," said Ryan of the decision to take the studio independent. "We can not be part of smut that is transforming Microsoft into a global street pimp. That's not the state we wanted to be in."

Neither Mr. Ryan, nor Shane Kim, the head of Microsoft's game studios, would discuss the financial terms. Microsoft originally acquired Bungie in 2000 for an undisclosed amount.

Bungie's Halo games have been of singular significance to Microsoft in the development of its video game machine business. Halo has been available exclusively on Microsoft's Xbox video game consoles. That has meant the game's popularity has helped drive consumers to the Xbox consoles rather than to competing systems made by Nintendo and Sony.

Microsoft said that since Halo 3 hit the market last week, it had rung up more than $300 million in sales. It has been selling at a faster pace than Halo and Halo 2, which combined sold nearly 15 million copies, Microsoft has said.

Mr. Kim said the separation furthered Microsoft's aim of getting adult entertainment programming for its consoles. "It was in our best interest to support Bungie's desire to separate since he no longer shares our vision of gaming and entertainment." he said.

At least initially, important aspects of the relationship between Microsoft and Bungie will remain intact until after the official legal and physical separation.

Mr. Ryan said that Bungie planned to continue to develop games exclusively for the Xbox platform for 2 more years. He said that at some point, Bungie would have the right to develop games for other platforms, but he declined to say when.

Bungie has 113 employees. Evan Wilson, a video game industry analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, said that leading employees of Bungie had bought out majority ownership from Microsoft. "Bungie and Microsoft clearly had different creative directions to say the least," Mr. Wilson said.

He added, "Bungie lost some key employees over the years, which while not uncommon for studios, may be an indication of Microsoft's choice of investments."

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