In his latest “Not a Blog” update concerning his signing tour, George R.R. Martin notes that a thousand people turned up to have their books defaced in Seattle… but that that wasn’t the only thing he did. He visited the Amazon.com headquarters, apparently… and he dropped by the studio of renowned game developer Bungie, creators of the Halo franchise. Well, suffice it to say, this has raised some eyebrows.
Bungie has moved to being an independent developer after a long stint under the auspices of Microsoft, and they caused a bit of a stir when they announced (on April 29, 2010) that they had signed a 10-year deal with Activision Blizzard to develop games based on a “new IP” for the company. Details have been thin on the ground, except that there has been some argument as to whether the first big project within the IP with be an MMO (sometimes dubbed an “action MMO” by the press) or not; a spokesperson stated they were at a conference, only to have Bungie later state that it was actually a joke. So, MMO or not? Who knows.
Rumors have certainly suggested it’s an FPS MMO, and an anonymous source—claiming to have been one of thirty contractors let go by the company—indicated it was in a new, science fictional setting. So… maybe it really is just that Bungie are a bunch of geeks and sent out the invitation to George (who, for all we know, may well have played games of theirs like Myth: The Fallen Lords, in the days when he had time for such things).
Or, maybe it’s something else? This doesn’t even go to mention the possibility that Bungie’s new IP is actually licensed from works other than A Song of Ice and Fire, such as his ‘Thousand Worlds’ science fiction setting, or something like Wild Cards. However… there does seem to be one thing that may—may—suggest that it’s definitely not ASoIaF, and may indeed have nothing at all to do with GRRM’s work: the studio put forward the notion that the property could include spin-offs like comics or movies. It seems clearly impossible for ASoIaF to fall under that, and while Wild Cards is a shared-world series, it doesn’t seem to us like the Wild Cards Consortium would necessarily have a game studio take over such aspects of their intellectual property (than again, we could be wrong).
Wait a minute. A massive social game. Something on mobile platforms. And guess what Bungie announced in June? Yeah, that’s right, a social/mobile initiative called Aerospace in which Bungie partners with independent studios and provides them resources and support to get their games out there. Is this what’s going on? This seems to fit the sort of thing that may be going on, rather than the “new IP” which surely sounds like it’s something Bungie wants to own lock, stock, and barrel. Who’s ready for a Game of Thrones game where rather than farm, Farmville-style, you burn crops and raze buildings to the ground? That’s what Grok! Studio—which represents some of the media rights for GRRM’s work, as well as that of many other notable authors—has been hinting at, suggesting that HBO may be looking into a massive, multiplayer social game based on the TV series.
Okay, enough speculation. Whatever the reason for Martin’s visit to Bungie, we won’t have to wait for Bungie for a PC game based on A Song of Ice and Fire: Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive are aiming to release A Game of Thrones: Genesis—a unique strategy game—this summer, and they have an RPG in the works as well.