By Nathalie Voit

In the latest video game industry merger, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has announced plans to buy video game developer Bungie for $3.6 billion, according to an announcement from the company.

Bungie, the game studio behind highly-acclaimed franchises Destiny and Halo, was first acquired by Microsoft in 2000 until its split from the software systems giant in 2007. Although Bungie no longer owns the rights to the Halo series, the multiplayer shooting game helped popularize Microsoft’s first Xbox in 2001.

The company later partnered with video game company Activision Blizzard until 2019, where it co-created Destiny and Destiny 2 under a ten-year publishing deal with Activision.

Activision recently entered into its own massive $68.7 billion agreement with Microsoft. Along with Take-Two Interactive’s $12.7 billion acquisition of Zynga, the deal is one of three industry takeovers to take place in January alone.

The news arrives amid heightened interest in the “metaverse” and other immersive virtual-and augmented-reality gaming concepts.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an announcement on Jan. 18.

According to a statement from Sony, Bungie will continue to operate independently, “maintaining the ability to self-publish and reach players wherever they choose to play.”

“This is an important step in our strategy to expand the reach of PlayStation to a much wider audience. We understand how vital Bungie’s community is to the studio and look forward to supporting them as they remain independent and continue to grow,” said President and CEO of SIE Jim Ryan.

“We’ve had a strong partnership with Bungie since the inception of the Destiny franchise, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to officially welcome the studio to the PlayStation family.”

As of 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sony’s shares were up about 5% for the day.