The OG Halo composers are suing Microsoft over 20 years of unpaid royalties

Marty O’Donnell and Mike Salvatori claims that Microsoft owes them 20 years of royalties, which could delay the live-action Halo TV series' premiere in March.


Halo is an iconic game and largely the reason why Microsoft was able to keep up with Sony in the early days of each company's console wars. Part of what made the early games so iconic, outside of Bungie's efforts, is the soundtrack by Marty O'Donnel and Mike Salvatori. But, while Microsoft has made millions in revenue off of Halo, it appears that the tech giant didn't give the OG Halo composers their dues.

Halo Composers Suing Microsoft Unpaid Royalties
Halo's legendary music score is a huge reason for why Microsoft's marquee shooter is as popular as it is.

According to Polygon, Marty and Mike are suing Microsoft over 20 years' worth of unpaid royalties with O'Donnel Salvatori Inc., mediating with Microsoft (as per Eurogamer).

The lawsuit comes at an inopportune time for Halo as the series is preparing for its first live-action adaptation on Paramount in March. To make matters worse, O'Donnell claims that the two composers' joint studio could file an injunction and prevent the show from airing if the issue is not resolved soon.

It remains to be seen how Microsoft will handle the lawsuit. However, we don't think that prolonging this case is in Microsoft's or Halo's best interests. For what it's worth, Microsoft explains that the company owns Halo's soundtrack because O'Donnel worked as an in-house composer for Bungie at the time of its creation. What is interesting here is that Salvatari was always an independent contractor. Not to mention, O'Donnell explains that Microsoft never clarified the licensing agreement despite purchasing Bungie several years ago.

Don't expect the legal kerfuffle between Microsoft and Halo's OG composers to find a resolution anytime soon. The pretrial conference, which is when all parties involved and the court will set a trial date, isn't scheduled until May 9.

Halo Composers Suing Microsoft Unpaid Royalties
The most likely scenario here is that Microsoft will fight the lawsuit and let it drag on for as long as possible.

Ultimately, there seems little chance that Microsoft will back pay all the royalties allegedly owed to O'Donnell and Salvatori. Not only does it constitute an astronomical amount, but Microsoft does have its own legal ground to stand on. Plus, Microsoft hasn't had issues using the Halo soundtrack in several different projects over the past two decades. The last thing that Microsoft wants to do is to pay for music that it has used liberally until now.

In other Halo news, the series' latest mainline installment, Halo Infinite, is losing a lot of players and fast. Also, speaking of Bungie, the original developers of Halo are now part of PlayStation Studios after Sony paid $3.6 billion to acquire the Destiny studio.


Aron Gerencser
Gaming at least as long as he's been walking, Aron is a fan of all things sci-fi and lover of RPGs. Having written about games for years, he's right at home reporting most of the breaking news in the industry and covering the happenings of the e-sports world. Graduating summa cum laude from Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi with a BA in Media Production, Aron has been a game journalist since 2014. When not writing, editing or playing, Aron is building models which you can find on Instagram.
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