A Brief History of Halo
If you're a fan of the FPS genre, then you've most probably played Halo. Created by Bungie Studios, the franchise was originally supposed to make its debut exclusively on Apple's Mac as a real-time strategy game but after being bought by Microsoft, Halo: Combat Evolved instead appeared on the Xbox in 2001 as a launch title. The game was a mega hit, redefining many aspects of the FPS genre and silencing the many people who, at the time, claimed that a good FPS on a video game console was simply impossible. Halo: Combat Evolved was later released on Windows PC and Mac which officially supported online multiplayer.
Now, let's take a look at how things went on from there:
- In 2004, Bungie & Microsoft released Halo 2 for the Xbox. Xbox LIVE had launched allowing other players to battle it out on the game's online multiplayer mode. The game featured "Matchmaking" which was a change from picking out servers from a list. Halo 2 was the most played Xbox LIVE game every week for two years, setting a record; one that it still holds.
- Halo 3, the last in the Halo trilogy, was released in 2007. It too broke international entertainment records, racking over $170 million during the first 24-hours it was on sale. It remains one of Xbox LIVE's most played games to date.
- In early 2009, a real-time strategy spin-off to the franchise, Halo Wars, was released. The game was developed by Essemble Studios and published by, of course, Microsoft.
- In 2009, Bungie released Halo 3: ODST which took place between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3. The game was a stand-alone campaign –putting players in the shoes of an ODST Shock Trooper– and included a special multiplayer disc for Halo 3. Included in the disc was every Map Pack for the online mode.
- In 2010, Halo: Reach –a prequel which story takes place before the events of the first Halo game– was released. It broke Halo 3's day-one sales, selling over $200 million worth of copies in 24 hours.
Anyway, let's get to the point.
2001, 2004, 2007, early 2009, 2009, 2010. Said dates are the release years of each and every Halo game (excluding ports such as Halo: Combat Evolved coming to Windows PC and Mac in 2004 or Halo 2 releasing on Windows in 2007). If one thing is clear, it's that the time span is decreasing rapidly. Nothing is known for certain at this point, but Microsoft might on the verge of pushing out Halo titles every year, similar to what Activision are doing with the Call of Duty franchise.
With this possibility, many are wondering whether or not this would be a good thing for both the fans and the quality of the franchise.
There are some pros to having an annual Halo release, most notably being the happy fans. As mentioned before, Halo 3 remains one of Xbox LIVE's most played games since its release almost 4 years ago in 2007. Halo: Reach is also on the most played list, but it's third. Back during Halo 3's first couple of years after release, the game remained in either 1st or 2nd (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare being the reason for the jumping). This, however, has not been the case for Reach. It's coming up to one year since its release, and Reach is already 3rd on the list; overtaken by Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2.
This is a sign that fans want different and frequent Halo experiences. An annual Halo game would make sense for Microsoft, as more Halo equals more money, and more frequently at that. On top of that, having Halo games released every year will only make the franchise more known, as more people will become exposed to the name "Halo"; just take a look at Call of Duty.
The Cons & Your Opinion on the Matter
There seems to be easily more cons than pros to this. While more Halo games might be good for some fans, others will consider it milking of the franchise; something Activision have been accused of with Call of Duty. This will actually end up with some fans no longer purchasing Halo games and most probably many boycotts.
On top of this, the development team will have less time to create these games, meaning that less time will be focused on creating a main story, checking for bugs, polishing, and so on; all of which will heavily affect the games' overall quality. Again, this will lead to many fans abandoning the franchise and accusing Microsoft of heavily milking. The overall reputation of Halo will crumble — Xbox's flagship title will become less and less popular.
Many will later compare it to the likes of Guitar Hero. Basically, Halo will have a slow and painful death if Microsoft begin annualising the franchise. It's something that –in my opinion– they shouldn't even think about.
But that's just my opinion. What I'd like to know is if you think that new Halo games every year would be a good thing or a bad move for Microsoft to make. Let us know by posting a comment below.