In a recent interview with IGN, Bonnie Ross (head of 343 Industries) spoke about the uncertain period of time that preceded the release of Halo 4. Specifically, she dives into how Microsoft wasn’t who was going to develop Halo 4 after Bungie and Microsoft split.
In fact, Microsoft was apparently leaning towards either canceling the franchise or handing it to an outside development team. Ross was quick to shoot down that first option as she felt that there was still too much left to explore in the Halo universe. Eventually, she was able to convince key members of Microsoft at the time that the series was worth preserving.
From there, Ross helped form 343 Industries (named after Halo character 343 Guilty Sparks) who, of course, went on to develop Halo 4. They remain the new developer of the Halo series and are even working on the highly-anticipated (but still very mysterious) Halo: Infinite.
As for that second option…well, that could have been very interesting. Microsoft apparently considered several major studios when talking about finding an outside studio to handle the Halo franchise moving forward. According to Ross, though, the studio that seemed to come up most in conversation was Gearbox. At the time, Gearbox hadn’t yet released the first Borderlands game (they were actually working on it around the same time as work on Halo 4 began). The reason Microsoft was apparently so interested in handing the franchise over to them was because of Gearbox’s work on the Halo PC ports.
While Microsoft obviously didn’t go that route, it’s fascinating to think of how things might have been different if they had. We most likely wouldn’t have gotten the Borderlands franchise (unless Gearbox worked on multiple projects at once) which would have denied us of one of the best loot shooters in many years. Ironically, the loss of Borderlands and its influential design may have also affected the design of Bungie’s own loot shooter follow-up to the Halo franchise, Destiny.
Of course, we’re still waiting on the release of Borderlands 3.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.