Thursday, March 09, 2006

Creator's of Halo leave Microsoft to make their own company

Four video-game creators from Microsoft and Zipper Interactive have left the companies to form their own studio, which they formally opened for business Wednesday in Pioneer Square.

The studio, called Giant Bite Games, will be developing titles for the next generation of video-game consoles and for Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista operating system, according to co-founder Hamilton Chu.
The company is already working on one title, though Chu declined to give any details about the project.

The four founders, all in their 30s, have some huge franchises under their belt already. Chu was the lead producer at Bungie overseeing the development of the "Halo" and "Halo 2" games for the Xbox, and co-founder Michael Evans was an engineer on the titles. Another founder, Andy Glaister, joined Microsoft's Game Studios division in 1999 and most recently managed the programming team developing gaming tools for Windows Vista.

The only non-Microsoft veteran on the team is Steve Theodore, who was previously the technical art director for Zipper Interactive. Redmond-based Zipper was acquired by Sony's video-game arm in January and is the creator of the "Socom" game franchise. Theodore previously worked for Valve Software, the Bellevue developer of the "Half-Life" series.

Giant Bite incorporated last November and hasn't received any venture funding. The founders enjoyed their previous jobs, but wanted to work on their own projects, Chu said.

"There comes a time when you want to try it on your own and have both the products and an organization that really fits your vision of how to do things well and how to do things better," he said.

The founders are facing some tough economics in the video-game industry. It generally costs at least $10 million to create games for next-generation consoles, which include the Xbox 360 and the upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution. Smaller studios are finding it increasingly difficult to get funding, especially when they aren't developing established franchise titles or sequels.

Chu said the financing and commitment from game publishers will come down to what the studio can produce. He added that the group's track record will help.

"If you have a team that can make a great product, you will be a great investment," he said. "The question is, 'Can we make a great game?' "

Link to story

It looks like these guys didn't want to be held down to only making games for the Xbox360. With the creators of Halo developing games for "Next Gen system(s)" it seems the Revolution controller may just be too good to pass up. We'll see more as E3 draws closer.

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