As all Seinfeld fans know, the only way to leave the room is on a high note. When the raucous applause starts, you back away with the "Thanks! You've been great! I'm outta here!"

That appears to be the way that Bungie is escaping the clutches of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). On the heels of the smash hit Halo 3, reportedly a $300 million seller already, the Halo developers are bowing out to become independent once again. The bloggers got the scoop on this one, and Mr. Softy didn't release the carefully worded spin control until today. (Doubtlessly, they would love to have kept it until after the market closed.)

The dirt from that original post suggests that the Halo team just couldn't take working for Microsoft anymore. Here's a snippet:

Apparently MS just wants Bungie to make Halo for the rest of their natural days, and Bungie doesn't like how MS is constantly trying to "handle" everything they do; the way they market their games, the way they interact with their fans (basically the fact that they do appreciate their fans), and how stingie [sic] they are with the profits (comparable to the rest of the industry).

The trouble with this scuttlebutt? It's so eminently believable. Hey, would you want to work inside the belly of the Redmond beast? Microsoft is huge and has great resources, but the snail's-pace, short-sighted development of stuff like the Zune shows exactly how poorly the behemoth is able to respond to fast-changing markets. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is already a year ahead of Microsoft's latest offerings, with a lineup introduced weeks ago.

The Xbox 360 is a standout in this regard, and it continues to sell well despite its horrid record of reliability. (iIt's so bad, Microsoft had to take a billion-dollar repair reserve.) It's tough to tell right now whether an independent Bungie will put a dent in Microsoft or not. After all, the games division is a money-loser anyway.

Will a loss of exclusivity on Bungie sell more competitor systems at the expense of Xbox 360? Not likely, at least for the foreseeable future. The Xbox 360 has a solid lead in high-end consoles, and much of that owes to great performance from games developed by non-exclusive studios like Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) and Activision (NYSE:ATVI). Besides, games have a huge lead time, and by the time a new Bungie blockbuster is in the works, we'll probably be looking for the Xbox 720 and the PlayStation 4.

In fact, if Mr. Softy's heavy-handedness has been holding back the Halo developers by restraining their creativity, this escape might ultimately allow the group to develop better games, which will still, undoubtedly, run on the Xbox 360 platform. That would be good news for everyone -- maybe even long-suffering shareholders in Mr. Softy.

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