Posting on his personal blog, Bethesda Game Studios production director Ashley Cheng has said he can "only imagine how much it will cost to snag" Bungie's next title.
Because of this he believes there are only a handful of publishers who can "afford to publish" the game. These include Microsoft, Activision, Ubisoft, EA Partners, Bethesda and Sony. He adds that Sony would be "interesting. Unlikely".
Speaking to Eurogamer.net Bungie's Lars Bakken said that a publishing deal for its next game is close to being agreed.
"I think internally we'll know sometime soon. I don't handle these things, but I'd imagine we're going to know way before we make the public announcement of who's handling that! But sure, I think those talks are, I guess, close," he said.
Bungie is currently working on Halo 3: ODST, for release on September 22, and will follow this with Halo: Reach in 2010. Cheng believes that once these games are done, the independent studio will not owe Microsoft anything more.
"I suspect Bungie only owes Microsoft two more games and they're done. Halo ODST and Reach and that's that," said Cheng. No more Halo for Bungie."