According to a press release by Microsoft this morning, Bungie Studios, which developed the Halo franchise, plans to become an independent company. Microsoft said that it will retain an equity interest in Bungie while maintaining its current agreement for the Microsoft-owned Halo videogame.

Our collaboration with Bungie has resulted in 'Halo' becoming an enduring mainstream hit, said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. 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, such as Peter Jackson, on a new interactive series set in the 'Halo' universe.

Despite the news, shares of Microsoft are homing in on a 1% gain on the day, following the rest of the market higher. You may remember that earlier in the week, Microsoft reported that sales of Halo 3 topped $300 million in its first week of release. Much of the sentiment I reported in the aforementioned blog posting still holds true for MSFT, while the stock is still struggling with round-number resistance at the 30 level. This region appears to be the immediate stumbling block to a greater-than-1% gain on the day for the software giant.