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May 23, 2012 10:27 AM

Bungie, Xbox 720 and PS4 plans revealed in lawsuit

Posted by Brier Dudley

Elite game studio Bungie will release its new series of sci-fi action games starting in the fall of 2013, according to a legal filing that reveals details of what the secretive Bellevue studio has been developing since it split up with Microsoft.

Bungie created the hit "Halo" series for Microsoft then spun out of the Redmond company in 2007 to pursue its own destiny, which turns out to be the code-name of its new game franchise.

The Los Angeles Times found details of "Destiny" in a contract that was filed as part of a lawsuit involving Activision, the publisher that hooked up with Bungie in 2010. The suit is between Activision and former employees involved with its "Call of Duty" franchise.

The contract discloses that the first installment of Bungie's new "massively-multiplayer-style" action shooting game "Destiny" is due in the fall of 2013 for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and the next version of the Xbox, which the contract calls the "720."

Bungie is contracted to release new versions every other year, alternating with expansion packs dubbed "Comet" that will begin shipping in the fall of 2014, according to the report.

Bungie and Activision are also planning to release the game for the PlayStation 3 and its successor, the PS4, in the fall of 2014.

The companies have declined to provide details of the project although Bungie is now looking for gamers to test alpha and beta versions of its next game.

Bungie is not developing "Halo 4," a new installment of the Xbox franchise that Microsoft is developing itself for release in November.

Microsoft hasn't said when the next version of the Xbox will go on sale but the Bungie contract suggests that it could happen in the 2013 holiday season, with "Destiny" as a key launch title. That would be similar to the way "Halo" was a cornerstone of the first Xbox launch in November 2001. An Xbox spokesman declined to comment on my theory and referred questions to Activision and Bungie.

Among the tidbits in the contract: Bungie may receive up to $140 million in advance payments before Activision applies "overage" penalties.

If the game receives average critic ratings of at least 90 on gamerankings.com or a comparable service, Bungie receives a $2.5 million bonus.

The contract also discloses that Bungie's working on a version of its early hit "Marathon," which is described in the contract as "iVlarathon," a future "action-shooter interactive entertainment software product." Activision placed limits on how much staff time Bungie can devote to the next project during the development of "Destiny."

Last week a new version of the open-source "Marathon 2" game engine was released. Here's "Marathon" artwork from Bungie.net:

games_marathon_header.jpg

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.