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Microsoft explains Halo launch absence

Microsoft explains Halo launch absence

Tue 26 Nov 2013 10:22am GMT / 5:22am EST / 2:22am PST
Development

"There was no way we were going to turn around with 343 a full Halo game in a year"

Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, has explained why the Xbox One launch title line up is missing its quota of Master Chief.

"A couple of years ago we had the discussion of: 'Should we do Halo at launch and not do Halo 4 last year?'" Spencer told Kotaku.

"But I was committed to getting Halo 4 done last year, and there was no way we were going to turn around with 343 a full Halo game in a year. So that was the plan we set on. I feel good about that."

Halo 4 launched in November last year and grossed a record breaking $220 million on launch day and $300 million in its opening week, according to Microsoft figures.

Spencer said that creating a new Halo title in time for Xbox One would have meant starting in 2010, and the bigger priority was letting 343 Industries ship their first internal project.

"Unlike some franchises that manage through 1,000 people, Halo is 343 and that team obviously has tight control.They are our Halo team," he explained.

"A discussion around having a Halo game at launch-a true Halo at launch, meaning like a Halo 4 or 5-size game-would have been something we'd have had to start two or three years ago. We had the discussion, and we thought having Halo 4 come out when it came out from 343 and having them really land their first full version of Halo that they developed internally would be great for the 360 customers, great for 343 in shipping something."

No one can doubt Microsoft's commitment to the Halo franchise though, it was a major part of the Xbox One announce with the reveal of a new, live action Halo TV series directed by Steven Spielberg. Top-down third-person shooter Halo: Spartan Assault is due for release on Xbox 360 and Xbox One next month, and Xbox has confirmed that a new Halo title is in development for Xbox One.

8 Comments

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,065 994 0.9
there was no way we were going to turn around with 343 a full Halo game in a year
Somewhere a PR person is gritting their teeth, because there is now this quote which can be applied to Spartan Assault. There is also only so much fluff you should add to the decision of releasing H4 on the 360, when it is a no-brainer from a business side.

Posted:8 months ago

#1

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,460 1.4
@ Klaus It also looks really bad for Halo 5 to come out in 2014, as a two year turnaround for a main entry is certainly not something that will get you a good reputation these days.

Posted:8 months ago

#2

Kenneth Bruton
Producer

38 8 0.2
Rushing a product to market will only lead to patches, and not in a good way…I would be willing to wait for a HALO title. I am also not an early adopter anymore, so wading through the lack of launch titles does not affect me as it would the early adopter. As long as the end result is reflective of the technology and the experience also is reflective of expectations for the series, I will be happy.

Posted:8 months ago

#3

Andrzej Wroblewski
Localization Generalist

101 69 0.7
Funny thing is, "hardcore" players have only that much cash to spend and time to spare... that's the ultimate bottom line for every launch. The elusive "casual" everyone's trying to catch for years now IMHO might be the reason for something similar to the dotcom bubble a couple of years back to happen... Casual gamer is just a prospect customer and I have a feeling that marketoids are more and more willing to overestimate that factor in their business value projections.

Posted:8 months ago

#4

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
It also looks really bad for Halo 5 to come out in 2014, as a two year turnaround for a main entry is certainly not something that will get you a good reputation these days.
I don't think 2 years is unforgivable, especially if the technology and middle-ware is ready, leaving the artists, designers and programmers able to go and create.

Sure, Xbox One is a new console but its nothing like previous approaches to console architecture. As long as the quality is there, I don't think 2 years will upset many people, with a whole universe to be explored in this franchise.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 26th November 2013 5:51pm

Posted:8 months ago

#5

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,460 1.4
@ Adam I think you can do a two year turnaround once, but after that people lose interest. The best example of this is Uncharted. People were excited for Uncharted 2 two years after the first game, and they loved Uncharted 2, but Uncharted 3 was one too much. The break that series got after that will do it a world of good for the first PS4 entry.

Halo has had far too many main entries in far too short a time. Halo 3 sold a record-breaking 11.8 million units for the franchise, but then Halo: Reach sold only 9.5 million. Halo 4, two years later, sold only 8.5 million. Franchises need a break to allow interest to rekindle. People say Nintendo releases too many Mario games, but how many of those Mario games are in the same franchise? They generally only release one entry per franchise per platform (One NSMB, one 3D Mario, one Mario Kart, etc.). Releasing too often makes a franchise no longer feel special.

Posted:8 months ago

#6

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

886 1,307 1.5
explained why the Xbox One launch title line up is missing its quota of Master Chief.
Theres really no need for an explaination. The first Xbox was the only one to launch with a Halo title so nobody has been expecting new Xbox's to launch with one ever since the 360 didn't. And as a huge Halo fan I'm personally glad they didn't launch the XBO with one. Between 2009-2012 we've gotten atleast one Halo title a year(two in 2009) and the franchise needs atleast two years between entries. It's not like the multiplayer won't survive that long as you can still find games in 2007's Halo 3 and all subsequent games.
but then Halo: Reach sold only 9.5 million. Halo 4, two years later, sold only 8.5 million
I'm fairly certain that there are many publishers(both first and third party) out there that wish some of their titles only sold 9.5 and 8.5 million. Even as a decline from a previous titles sales those aren't bad numbers, especially for an exclusive title that only has a single platform to work with.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 27th November 2013 12:57am

Posted:8 months ago

#7

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
@Nicholas
Adam I think you can do a two year turnaround once, but after that people lose interest. The best example of this is Uncharted. People were excited for Uncharted 2 two years after the first game, and they loved Uncharted 2, but Uncharted 3 was one too much. The break that series got after that will do it a world of good for the first PS4 entry.
I usually agree with most things you say so I must have misunderstood you. I didn't aim to suggest a Halo every 2 years was best or worst, only that a Halo launching on Xbox One, two years after its predecessor on Xbox 360 doesn't mean the title can't be of high quality and feed their desires for a new entry.

I do think 2014 is good timing and fortunately, as I alluded the tech makes it feasible which is positive too. I don't think UC3 had the same wow factor as its predecessor either, and 2 year cycles can be hurtful. That said, every product is different. Its a new console so there's a lot of expectation and anticipation for what they can do.
Halo has had far too many main entries in far too short a time. Halo 3 sold a record-breaking 11.8 million units for the franchise, but then Halo: Reach sold only 9.5 million. Halo 4, two years later, sold only 8.5 million. Franchises need a break to allow interest to rekindle.
To be fair though, its still an awful lot of sales. Even after 3 years, there's no guarantee the game would recapture the original 11.8 million. If I'm not mistaken, its generally very difficult for any franchise, no matter the length of time to match the sales of its predecessor. We can point at some of the most successful Playstation 2 games for that matter, even with the rapidly growing installed base.
People say Nintendo releases too many Mario games, but how many of those Mario games are in the same franchise? They generally only release one entry per franchise per platform (One NSMB, one 3D Mario, one Mario Kart, etc.). Releasing too often makes a franchise no longer feel special.
One of the problems with Nintendo is that they focus so heavily on their most popular IP that it becomes the only thing they're associated with. Sure, only one or two can be released a generation, but how many games in total with the same main characters? How many games bear the Mario name or branding across generations of hardware?

I still agree that releasing too many games can make a franchise stale but there are many factors that come into play. Microsoft want to make Halo into their "Star Wars", many of us complained a franchise like Star Wars wasn't exploited enough. As much as sales come into it, you would hope that by releasing more entries in a series of its type, more of the universe will be opened up and more of story the creators have envisioned. Something you wouldn't expect out of another Mario title. You would be looking for Nintendo's next innovation in game play.

Posted:8 months ago

#8

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