Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Games Phil Spencer told IGN:
“There’s no explicit strategy that says we’re to ship a Halo game every year. I will say I think one Halo game every three years — which was kind of our old cadence – is probably not frequent enough.”
And to be followed up by:
“I’ll just, again, be honest as a gamer. I used to look at annual releases of non-sports games as people just trying to milk me. I figured nobody had enough time to do a good job, and all of the negatives that we would associate with those kinds of scenarios. Kudos to Activision because they’ve done a good job building a good game, continuing to release each year and I think the fans feel like it’s a good thing that they do that. I think there are some things to learn, some positives and some opportunities, in what they do with that. Obviously they’ve kept the quality extremely high, which I think is important.”
“We have some unique challenges and opportunities with Halo because it is a story based game built around a certain set of characters, which is a bit different than what they do with Call of Duty. Not better or worse, it’s just different. But watching them and seeing what they do — we take inspiration from a lot of places — but obviously they’re a big success.”
Now, EA Games brings out a sports game once a year because well it’s a sports game. Players change rosters, fields get built, more additions to the overall game need to be made.
As much as I’ve enjoyed Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty Series like Ubi Soft’s Rainbow Series, each incarnation of one of the games has taken time. Activision Games did a smart thing they alternated between Call of Duty Games over the last few years, COD4 was Infinity Ward’s in 2007, COD5 was by Treyarch in 2008, Modern Warfare 2 was by Infinity Ward in 2009 with Treyarch coming back in 2010 with Call of Duty Black Ops.
Ubisoft did the same thing with Rainbow Six.
Unfortunately, there will be no waiting with baited breath for Infinity Ward’s next installment due to a falling out with Activision Games and many Infinity Ward members left to form their company entitled Respawn Entertainment.
Getting back to the subject at hand: Three years for a Halo game is bad! Bad! (Insert your own Dana Carvey George H Bush impersonation if you want.)
Why is this bad?
In fact, it’s a sign of a good strategy, it gives everyone time to get things organized and let the drooling fans get bombarded by award winning Ads on television.
Instead, you want it once a year?
I’m sorry, what?
The current model goes like this: Game comes out. Fans are happy. Patches arrive and make the game playable. Then the downloadable content arrives. For the first person shooter it’s levels or for some first person shooters (Yes, I’m looking at you Bad Company) it’s game types like Conquest. Players then shell out money every single time for downloadable content (DLC) of the new levels for say Call of Duty 4 or Rainbow Six Vegas.
The problem with this current model is those levels aren’t compatible with the next iteration of said series. Yes, LVU Campus was sorely missed on Rainbow Six Vegas 2 or the same can be said for Shipment from COD4.
Now, if you want to make a Halo, Rainbow, Ghost Recon, Dead Rising a yearly event that allows the players to play all the DLC across Dead Rising 3, 4 or 5 then game on I’m right there with you! If it makes the playability last longer then yes, please. Playability good, non-playable levels bad.
In fact, let’s just get rid of the CD format all together and make the entire game a DLC.
In closing, two things will make this work: 1. Does the average gamer have big enough pockets like the sports gamer to do a Halo every year and 2. So long as the Halo cut scenes can fully render themselves.