Apple boss made angry Ballmer call when Xbox bought Mac experts and Halo creators Bungie
Steve Jobs’ capacity to accurately detect the blockbuster potential of consumer goods may go beyond the realm of MP3 players and smartphones and right into video games.
New information has come to light revealing the Apple CEO was furious to lose Mac-loving Bungie to Microsoft back when Halo was an unknown quantity.
Ed Fries, the former vice president of game publishing at Microsoft, and the man central to Microsoft’s acquisition of Rare and Bungie, told Develop he had to personally broker a deal with Apple back in 2000 to appease the indomitable Macintosh boss.
“As soon as we announced we bought Bungie, Steve Jobs called,” Fries said.
“He was mad at [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer and phoned him up and was angry because we’d just bought the premier Mac game developer and made them an Xbox developer.”
Bungie, which was established in 1991, had throughout the Nineties built games for Apple’s Mac, from the Marathon trilogy to Oni. The studio, then based out in Chicago, was also building a relatively obscure FPS called Halo for Mac and PC.
Yet Apple’s deal with Bungie was flung aside when Microsoft bought the studio in 2000, for a figure Develop believes to be around $30 million.
Fries said Jobs needed placating once the acquisition news reached Apple’s Infinite Loop headquarters.
“So, during the day, I got an email from Steve Ballmer asking me to phone Steve Jobs and calm him down about the whole thing,” he said.
“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, 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, who left Microsoft in 2004, made the revelation in an eye-opening interview with Develop – set to be published soon – where, for the first time, he provides his own account into how the Xbox system was born.