In the days after Microsoft parted ways with Bungie, the original development studio behind the Halo series, the company considered many ways to move forward with the Halo universe. One of those, it turns out, would have included handing development of Halo 4 over to Gearbox Software, the studio behind the popular Borderlands franchise.
In an interview with IGN's Ryan McCaffrey, Bonnie Ross, the head of current Halo developer 343 Industries, dove into the potential avenues Microsoft considered following Bungie's departure following Halo 3. While Microsoft considered ending the Halo series outright, owing to the ambiguous ending of Halo 3, alternatives included tapping an outside studio to head development on future games. From IGN:
Another possibility was that Microsoft would hand the reins of the franchise over to an external studio for development, at least for one or two more games. The frontrunner Microsoft had in mind at the time was Gearbox Software, the studio responsible for the PC port of Halo: Combat Evolved and the same team that went on to create the popular Borderlands franchise.
Ultimately, Ross convinced management at Microsoft Game Studios that development should stay in-house, and was given the responsibility of steering Halo's future. A new internal team, 343 Industries, was created, eventually leading to the development of Halo 4 and 5.
It's tough to say how the Halo series would have differed had Gearbox been handed the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. But it would have been an interesting turn of events, to be sure.
343 Industries is currently working on the next entry in the Halo series, dubbed Halo Infinite. Outside of a short teaser shown off at E3 2018, not much is known about the sequel, but Ross has stated that 343 Industries is taking lessons learned from mistakes made in past entries while looking to "do right" by the series.
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