GAMING: Microsoft reportedly will benefit from developments and shares of firm. By Jessica Mintz THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CitySEATTLE – Bungie Studios, the “Halo” video-game developer acquired by Microsoft Corp. in 2000, is once again operating as an independent company, Microsoft said Friday. The software maker will maintain close ties with privately held Bungie LLC and own a minority stake in it, the companies said. Bungie will develop games exclusively for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Windows PC platforms “for the foreseeable future,” said Harold Ryan, Bungie’s president and studio head, in an interview. The two companies said they will continue to work together to support the “Halo” franchise – including “Halo 3” released Sept.25 – and will expand their partnership to include new games. Executives declined to comment on the size of Microsoft’s stake or other financial terms of the deal, which was effective Friday. Microsoft acquired Chicago-based Bungie and its “Halo” concept in 2000, ensuring that the Xbox would be the only game console to run the multiplayer first-person shooter game. Bungie moved from Chicago to Kirkland, Wash., a few miles from Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters, and the first installment of the trilogy went on sale simultaneously with the first Xbox console in November 2001. “Working with Microsoft was great for us. It allowed us to grow as a team and make the ambitious, blockbuster games we all wanted to work on,” said Jason Jones, Bungie founder and partner, in a statement Friday. “But Bungie is like a shark. We have to keep moving to survive. We have to continually test ourselves, or we might as well be dolphins. Or manatees.” Gamers have plunked down more than $300 million for “Halo 3” since its release less than two weeks ago, and Microsoft said the game’s launch helped sales of the Xbox 360 console. The video game costs between $60 and $130, depending on special features and commemorative packaging. About 4.5 million copies of the first “Halo” title were sold in the U.S., and more than 6.2 million of “Halo 2,” according to NPD Group. “While we are supporting Bungie’s desire to return to its independent roots, we will continue to invest in our `Halo’ entertainment property with Bungie and other partners,” said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. The company said it is working on a new project with film director Peter Jackson of “The Lord of the Rings” acclaim. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!