The Halo Effect

Nov 22, 2011

It’s that time of year: the holiday release season. Right now gamers around the world are ready to spend their time and money on new, big budget titles every week. This past week we saw the release of Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim. Two games that have mainstream qualities and will no doubt be two of the best selling games of the year. Simultaneously, Microsoft releases a remastered version of the original Halo. A game that single handedly saved the original XBOX and sold millions of copies. If the title of this article and above-written words have lead you to believe the below written words are a celebration of Halo, click the back button on your browser.

What is the Halo effect? I’ll answer simply with a question: what games did you play last summer? You see, Halo did more than save Microsoft’s venture into gaming, it also showed the gaming world how to effectively apply multiplayer gaming to consoles. It wasn’t the first to do 4-player split screen. But it was the first to link together 4, albeit ugly XBOX consoles for 16-player battles. Combined with a competent shooter that looked great, it gave social gamers a forum that was unequaled. Across America, gamers were quickly spreading the word that Halo was legit, and the only way to get it was with XBOX. How does your summer relate to this tale? Look at shooters across all platforms. We have games like Crysis 2, Singularity, and Vanquish that would have likely been PC-only games had Halo not saved the XBOX. In fact, gaming would not at all what it is today. I argue it would not be this good. We’re living a great life when you consider the wares competition between Sony and Microsoft. They constantly push the limits and demand more from first party developers which leads to greater expectations from the consumer. Again, pushing the demand on all developers to appeal to the market. And then you have Nintendo. Seemingly acting as if they were alone in the universe. But I don’t buy it. The Wii was a strategic move to side-step The Big 2 and carve a new niche. And it worked.

While I am not the biggest Halo fan in the world, I do celebrate its 10 year anniversary. For the success of Halo helped fuel the success of gaming. Oh, and happy anniversary GameCube!