The Story Behind Halo 3 ODST

(Why “Halo 3: Recon” was changed from being a campaign expansion to a separate title called “Halo 3: ODST” – As told by Marty O’Donnell, in a comment at A Reappraisal of Halo 3: ODST – YouTube)

In July of 2007 we had finally negotiated our way out of Microsoft. I was one of two leaders at Bungie who did the deal directly with Shane Kim (head of MGS). It was supposed to have been simple. We give them Halo 3, and they give us Bungie. It turned out they wanted us to make more Halo so we agreed to make Halo 4 (which became Reach) and we would help with the Peter Jackson Halo game. Not the Peter Jackson Halo movie – the game. There was a clause in the deal memo which said that if Peter Jackson failed to make the game, we would be released from that obligation. Somehow that clause got deleted. MS came back to us and said we had to make another game. We negotiated to make a Halo 3 campaign expansion, using a small team and finish it in one year. We were concerned about taking resources away from Reach which was already in development. MS agreed and we pulled in Paul Bertone and Joe Staten (who had been working with Peter Jackson) to jump on this project. Our plan was to under promise and over deliver. Release the game in the Spring for $29.99 and call it an expansion. Then people would love it because they would get so much more than expected.

Don Mattrick came in (replacing Shane Kim) and started playing hardball with Bungie. Our plan to announce the campaign expansion at E3 (anyone remember the countdown clock?) was cancelled at the last minute

Then it turned out the top management at MGS decided that the holiday 2009 season had no major titles for Xbox and delayed the release of ODST and also upped the price to $60. They marketed ODST as a full game – not an expansion. Because our negotiated deal had some profit sharing built in, Bungie probably made more money. However, many of us on the team felt like we had been double crossed and felt bad about misleading our fans.

And now you know.

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