Releasing in 2009 for the Xbox 360, Halo Wars was the first spin-off of the hugely successful Halo series, changing the gameplay from that of a first-person shooter into a real-time strategy (RTS) game in the vein of StarCraft. Led by the now defunct Ensemble Studios, whose pedigree included RTS classics Age of Empires and Age of Mythology, Halo Wars' reception was mixed over whether or not the team successfully translated the traditionally PC-centric genre to console. Looking back over the project, however, Ensemble founder Tony Goodman reflected on some of the troubles that loomed over development.
Originally, the game was never supposed to be a Halo game, but according to Goodman, Microsoft was "pretty risk averse," and ordered the team to just "paint over what [they] have with Halo stuff."
"The difficult part of that was it took the game back about a year in development," continued Goodman, "and I think it never quite turned out the same."
Apparently were also tensions with Halo creators Bungie Studios. "Bungie was kind of sore about the idea. What they called it was 'the whoring out of our franchise' or something," recalled Goodman. "Yeah, that didn't create a great relationship between us and Bungie; they viewed us as someone infringing [on their franchise]."
Interestingly, the first Halo title was originally in development by Bungie as a real-time strategy game, back when the game was in development for home computers. Though Halo Wars saw a return to the series' conceptual roots, apparently Bungie was none too pleased.
Bungie Studios has since moved on from the franchise after 2010's Halo: Reach. Halo 4, the first game in the series from 343 Industries, is set to release for Xbox 360 this November 6th.
Source: Games Industry