´Halo´ developer Bungie LLC has hired a PR company to represent the studio in Europe, giving rise to some speculation regarding their next projects and their working relationship with publisher Microsoft.
Bungie contracted Panache PR whose head Cathy Campos has been practically inseparable from star designer Peter Molyneux (´Fable´, ´Black & White´) for many years. The company has also represented Criterion Studios (´Burnout´, ´Black´) and Free Radical Design (´Time Splitters´, ´Haze´). A brief note on their website reads:
Kirkland,Wash. based game developer Bungie (...) asked Panache PR to represent them in Europe! As you can imagine I didn’t need much persuading to work with one of the world’s most successful and talented development companies! Their track record speaks for itself and they are really great people to work with.
Being less tongue in cheek about it, Panache PR is delighted to announce that the company has been appointed to handle Bungie's Corporate PR in Europe.
I contacted Cathy Campos, who I have had the pleasure of working with on many occasions, and asked her to clarify just what a US studio like Bungie would need PR representation in another territory for.
Jonty Barnes who now works there worked with me for many years at Bullfrog and then Lionhead and I think he really understands the importance of PR for developers. I think many US companies don’t do enough European PR so that is why I'm working with them.
I have no doubt that they have some exciting projects in the works. But I would expect it to be many months before they even think about doing PR for any new game.
Only recently, Bungie separated from Microsoft to become Bungie LLC, a ´privately held independent company (...) in which Microsoft will hold a minority equity interest.´
Hiring European PR is a highly unusual move for a US developer. To my knowledge, this is unprecedented. I do not know a single US studio that has any PR deals in other territories.
Some developers of massively multiplayer online games (MMO) do have some representation in Europe. US developer Blizzard (´World of Warcraft´, ´Starcraft´) and Korean company NCsoft (´Guild Wars´, ´Lineage´) have European offices, for example. But this is primarily due to the technical and administrative requirements of MMO games. Also, the former is part of Vivendi Games, who manage and outsource their marketing and PR as they see fit, while the latter also publishes its own products.
PR and marketing is always the publisher´s responsibility. Even a fairly independent studio like Valve (´Half-Life´) has no external PR representation. Instead, they have an internal marketing director, Doug Lombardi.
Three theories why Bungie might need European PR
Bungie hiring European PR is a clear sign of them wanting to sever ties with Microsoft. In detail, the move could hint at one of three possibilities. Firstly, the studio might want to distribute their own games digitally and may seek to back this up with PR representation. However, even Valve, the most successful studio in this field, manage without.
Secondly, they might be working on a new project that would necessitate PR people in other territories. Here, I can only think of an MMO. That, however, would also require them opening offices over here.
Thirdly, Bungie could consider moving to Europe or, more likely, opening a European satellite for other reasons than developing an MMO. German developer Crytek recently acquired a second satellite studio in Hungary.
At any rate, this is a clear indicator of Bungie moving yet further away from Microsoft and preparing for upcoming titles which will not be published by the console manufacturer.
Source: Panache PR