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Activision's contract with Bungie revealed

Activision's contract with Bungie revealed

May 21, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

May 21, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

As Activision's case against the ex-Infinity Ward heads continues to move forward, a number of once-secret documents have been made public -- including the contract between Activision and ex-Halo studio Bungie.

The two companies first announced a 10-year publishing agreement in 2010, but this newly-revealed contract -- available via the LA Times website -- reveals that Bungie has agreed to develop four "massively-multiplayer-style...sci-fantasy, action shooter games." The first title is due to launch in fall 2013, with subsequent releases following every other year.

In between these major retail releases, Bungie is also contracted to develop four "expansions" that coincide with each game.

For now, this upcoming series is codenamed "Destiny," and the contract notes that the first title will be developed initially for Microsoft's Xbox 360, as well as its yet-unnamed successor (referred to in the documents as the "Xbox 720").

The contract also notes that the first "Destiny" game could also come to PlayStation 3, assuming it is financially and technically feasible to port it over. Future games would be made for the Xbox 360, that console's successor, the PlayStation 3's successor, and the PC.

While it may have been amended since it was initially put into effect, the contract also notes that Bungie would be entitled to $2.5 million in bonuses per year if it meets its budget and quality milestones. The developer would receive an additional $2.5 million if the first "Destiny" game receives a score of 90 or higher on the review aggregate site

Meanwhile, Activision has the option to terminate the deal altogether under a number of difference circumstances. For instance, the publisher can void the contract without penalty if the first "Destiny" game does not sell 5 million units in its first six months, or it can walk away at any point after the second expansion pack releases.

In addition, the contract reveals that Bungie is working on another project codenamed "Marathon," harkening back to one of the studio's previous shooter franchises. While Bungie is under contract with Activision, it can dedicate no more than 5 percent of its staff to this "action-shooter" prototype.

The LA Times reports that with this contract out in the open, former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, who were fired from Activision in 2010, hope to compare their deal with Activision to Bungie's to prove that they are entitled to further compensation.

Last week, more covert details emerged through the case, as Activision's former director of IT testified that the company used questionable tactics to "dig up dirt" and justify firing West and Zampella. The trial for that case is currently scheduled for May 29.

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