Microsoft once sat at an impasse with what to do with their widely popular Halo franchise. On the most recent episode of IGN Unfiltered, Bonnie Ross, the studio head of 343 Industries, told IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey that Microsoft once considered giving the Halo franchise to an outside developer or ending the franchise outright after the company split with the franchise’s original developer Bungie.
According to Ross, while Bungie was finishing their last two entries in the franchise, Microsoft had thoughts to give their biggest franchise to an external developer for “one or two games.” Ross would go on to mention that Gearbox Software, the developers of the Borderlands franchise, was the front runner to helm the franchise for Halo 4 before the inception of 343 Industries. The biggest reason for this was due to Gearbox Software being the studio behind the PC port of Halo: Combat Evolved.
However, Ross, who was head of internal and external publishing for Xbox at the time, considered the move to external development “blasphemy,” and pitched her idea for the next entry in the series to the corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios Shane Kim. This led to the company shifting from the idea of moving to external development for the next Halo to Ross being “given the keys to the franchise.” Thus, this, in turn, led to the opening of 343 Industries.
Since this decision was made, both studios have developed multiple games. Gearbox went on to develop the Borderlands franchise with Borderlands 2 releasing the same year as 343 Industries’ first endeavor in Halo 4. Gearbox would also go on to develop hero shooter Battleborn, publish recently acquired Microsoft studio Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few, and is currently working on the next Borderlands game. 343 Industries has since released Halo 4, Halo 5: Guardians, and the upcoming Halo: Infinite which is reportedly set to be a launch title on the next generation of Xbox.