Bungie and Halo 2 responsible for evolution of Xbox Live, say Xbox creators

Microsoft's Xbox console was always going to have its Xbox Live service, but convincing third party publishers to add online components and tweak their games for Live compatibility was a challenge, according to Xbox co-creator Kevin Bachus in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz.

"What we did was to go up to publishers and say, 'Listen, we're building Walt Disney World here,'" said Bachus. "'We're taking care of laying the electrical cables and getting the water pipes in place, removing the garbage, that sort of stuff. You're building the rides.'"

Publishers were uncomfortable with Microsoft collecting revenue for the subscription that would allow people to play their games online, according to Bachus. Publisher EA stated Microsoft didn't need to know who was playing what EA games online, and that Live would be a "competing product" that would prevent EA from successfully cross-selling its products.

Bachus said the launch of Halo 2 in 2004, the first Halo game with online multiplayer, helped shape the future of Xbox Live. Bungie would couch feature and backend support requests in terms of general purpose, with an emphasis on how all Xbox developers would benefit from such features.

The team at Bungie was responsible for the implementation of Xbox Live's matchmaking process, skill rankings and in-game friends lists, as well as the "walled garden" user account system.

"As a group, we provided both technical and creative guidance and thought leadership that really pushed the limits," said Bungie president Harold Ryan. "We weren't just a game developer using the service. We were integrated in the design of the service and how it worked."

More from Polygon

The horror of Five Nights at Freddy's

  • Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Old Iron King Overview

  • Spacecom: a fast 4X built for multiplayer

  • Pillars of Eternity builds on role-playing classics

  • Tour the 1 KB hard drive built inside Minecraft

Latest Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.