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Jobs made 'angry' call to Microsoft over Bungie acquisition

updated 01:30 pm EDT, Tue October 26, 2010

Deal dealt blow to Mac gaming industry

Apple CEO Steve Jobs made an "angry" call to Microsoft head Steve Ballmer following the latter company's buyout of Bungie, a new interview reveals. Bungie was once one of the foremost Mac developers, having created popular game franchises like Myth and Marathon. The first Halo game was originally expected to be flagship Mac title, launching for Mac and Windows systems simultaneously; Jobs himself revealed plans during a 1999 Macworld conference.

After Microsoft's acquisition of Bungie in June 2000, Halo was instead turned into one of the inaugural games for the Xbox. Windows and Mac versions would only follow well after. "As soon as we announced we bought Bungie, Steve Jobs called," according to Ed Fries, a former VP of game publishing at Microsoft and central to the Bungie deal. "He was mad at Ballmer and phoned him up and was angry because we'd just bought the premier Mac game developer and made them an Xbox developer."

Fries quickly received an e-mail from Ballmer, asking him to phone Jobs and calm him down. "Anyway, we did this deal with Apple where we'd port some PC games to the Macintosh and help Peter Tamte create this company to do it," notes Fries, "and I had to go to a Mac developer conference and get on stage and talk about this whole new partnership. It was a pretty strange time."

Fries ultimately left Microsoft in 2004. Bungie would split from Microsoft in 2007, shortly after the release of Halo 3. The developer is now in a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision, working on its first major non-Halo title in over a decade.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I almost called, myself. Glad someone did.
    Grrrrrr! :P

  1. OldMacGeek

    Joined: Dec 1969


    And yet . . .

    Although it was great that we eventually got halo on the Mac, that was it. No Halo 2, Reach, or anything else. Sigh.

  1. DeezNutts

    Joined: Dec 1969



    These calls between company execs always crack me up when I hear about them. Its like "hey! You stole my ego! WTF!?!??"

    Sounds like a typical MS response too... "Hey sorry we screwed you over, how about an announcement of a new 'partnership' to make you feel better? Oh and we'll put out another version of Office on the Mac since you are really pissed off"

  1. panjandrum

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This move was/is sadly typical of Microsoft. Instead of doing something original, they bought up a smaller company and then ruined their product (IIRC Halo was supposed to be something much more akin to an open world exploration/combat thing. Microsoft turned it into a basically linear fps. Great graphics sure, but nothing nearly as ambitious as what was intended). I realize it is petty and pointless revenge, but I've had plenty of opportunities to buy an XBox or XBox 360 over the years, and every time I don't do it because of what they did to/with Bungie/Halo. (I was attending MacWorld Expos in Boston during this period, and it was amusing to see how Bungie pretended this would be a good thing and how everyone else knew that what it actually meant was that their amazing concept would turn to into a typical piece of Microsoft mediocrity.)

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Funny timing

    I just told my wife about the Microsoft/Bungie/Halo story the other night at dinner. I don't recall why; we never talk about this sort of thing. And now this story comes out. Bungie really was the premiere Mac-only game shop at the time (remember Marathon?), so it was a huge blow to lose them.

    I wonder if this episode taught Jobs a lesson: if there is a small company you like/appreciate/need buy them before someone else does.

  1. devospice

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yeah, but...

    I was more pissed off when Microsoft bought Rare. Rare made some of the best games for the Nintendo platforms all the way back to the NES.

  1. deckard97

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It's still a shame the Mac didn't get the Halo franchise.
    Halo 2 was not a very good game (played on Windows) but the other games should have a life outside the Xbox for people who hate consoles.
    Like me.
    Seriously, those gamepads make you feel like you have one arm tied behind your back when you play 1st person shooters.

  1. Rezzz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This acquisition..

    ..still burns my a** after all these years.

  1. byRyan

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Dude - double shotguns in Marathon FTW!!!

    I loved that game - it was as much problem solving as it was shooting

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's OK ...

    Pretty soon Jobs will be able to buy it back. When he buys Microsoft. And, channeling his inner Judge Doom, he just may say " ... I bought Microsoft so I could DISMANTLE it !!!" Bwuhuhahahahaha!!!

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