Halo vs Sony: can it close the gap?
The world can move quickly and, if you’re not careful, it can pass you by before you know what happened.
This is particularly the case in anything to do with technology, where what was leading edge yesterday is a punchline today. Add a creative element to the equation — like in the video game industry — and you are almost set-up for failure in certain situations.
Take the attempted preview of Halo Infinite last year. It was meant to be the title that launched Microsoft’s XBox Series X off on top in the Next Gen battle. Instead, the only thing modern about the 2020 demo were the memes that came out of it.
Fans, as video game fans are apt to be, were brutal in their criticism of the design and seeming lack of ambition behind Halo Infinite. Although not the only complaint they didn’t like, the graphics were the primary complaint.
They weren’t bad, exactly. They just weren’t particularly Next Gen.
The reaction to the 2020 demo was so bad that it forced the design house, 343 Industries, to go back to the drawing board and for Microsoft to drop plans to launch the Series X with Halo Infinite as the marquee title.
That latter point was a big deal and, although we can’t know how much of an impact it had on the launch of the Series X, it probably didn’t help. The truth is that Sony’s (TYO: 6758) PlayStation 5 got most of the Next Gen console hype and, more importantly, more than double its sales. Reports indicate that the Series X sold 1.31 million units in Q1 2021, compared to 2.83 million PS5s.
Not having the title that was synonymous with the original XBox on launch must have been a punch in the gut on every level for Microsoft. One cannot understate how important the Halo title was for the company, the platform and the industry as a whole. It was the leader in the first-person shooter space and drove the trends at the start of the previous generation.
Halo has moved more than 81-million units since its initial release in 2007, grossing $4.6 billion USD. So, it was pretty popular.
Popular enough that its brief inclusion in 2021 Microsoft’s E3 presentation was likely the talking point of the weekend at the influential convention. Although we don’t have an exact release date yet for Halo Infinite, a holiday 2021 drop seems likely. And, the initial reviews of the preview are far more positive than they were a year ago.
Gamers like the classic feel with a Next Gen spin that the preview seemed to suggest. If 343 Industries can deliver for the holidays then maybe it can help Microsoft close the game on the PS5 and earn some of its cool factor back. Microsoft is certainly hoping it can because it planned to have this generation of Halo to act as its main driver throughout this generation’s lifespan.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MFST) seemed to get a bit of a bump in the market yesterday due to the presentation at E3. It closed at $259.89, up from $257.90 at open.
So, this might work out in the end. However there should be a lesson here for anyone trying to launch a new generation of a video game that matters to do many people: Do it right, not fast.
Otherwise, gamers will hold you accountable.