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Say Halo wave goodbye

Ben Parfitt
Say Halo wave goodbye
Something has gone slightly awry with Microsoft’s media schedule. MCV’s one-to-one with Peter Moore has turned into a shared session, with a thoroughly nice fellow from Halo Nation being the third point of the triangle.

His line of questioning is, as you’d imagine, pretty focused. Those bloody warranties, he just won’t leave it alone.
That, of course, is a hilarious and topical joke. The single track to which our fellow journo’s questions are tied is marked Halo 3. Which is fine, because we’re as interested in that particular game as anyone right now. So, what did we learn?

Well, it looks “awesome”. Moore considers other companies trying to copy the game quite flattering, but isn’t worried, because none will be as good as Halo. It’s not time to talk launchday numbers yet, but it will be the biggest release ever in the wide world of entertainment, including movies and books. (The current games market record is held by Halo 2 with $125m on launchday).

This is more than a good headline, Moore insists: “It shows the industry in a positive light – and you guys in the UK know that we could do with some of that right now. Between slaughtered goats and Manchester cathedrals we’re taking a bit of a beating as an industry by, with all due respect, 50 year-old editors who don’t really get games and simply think they’re the root of all evil.”

He also explains the Halo/Star Wars analogy that he made live on stage and took a little heat for afterwards: “30 years ago, at college in England, I saw Star Wars and I still remember the effect it had on me. It was visceral. I would argue that Halo is having that effect on this generation. It’s something that defines and inspires them.”

There may have been some more stuff about weapons, or multiplayer options, but by now we were itching to jump in and change the subject.

For instance, it seemed from the press conference that Moore has greater respect for Nintendo’s achievements and strategies than Sony’s. “Sure, because the numbers bear it out.,” he clarifies. “Nintendo deserve more respect. Maybe they’re still a bit weak on third parties – their record has never been great in that area – but they’re even doing something about that and looking to address it.”

To stop it being a total love-in, however, Moore does claim that the Wii attach rate is lower than GameCube’s was and muses that Wii Sports could become a ball and chain: “It’s such a good game that maybe consumers aren’t inspired to buy too much more software.”

The other thing apparent is that Microsoft wants to concentrate on its current status and imminent releases. More than once he uses the phrase, ‘right here, right now’. Every game in Microsoft’s E3 presentation bar one is due this year.

“When you plan these things, you take stock of your assets, and when you’ve got the best holiday line-up in video game history, you don’t really need to look beyond that,” he opines.
“E3 can involve a lot of gesturing towards the future. There can be a lot of promises made. They can sometimes turn out to be a little disingenuous towards the consumer.”

Sony, he believes, wasn’t quite as focused in its messaging because, well because it’s not quite as focused in its business. He considers its ‘price cut’ something of a mis-fire, and not actually a price cut at all: “They’re still offering two models, one at $499 and one at $599, just like at launch – and soon there’ll just the $599 one. So, did I miss something? When was there a price cut? They need to find a way to get it down to $399 and see what happens.”

Moore, like Xbox 360, is on a roll. He’s already laughing about his own mis-firing during his glitchy Guitar Hero 3 demo. And about the muted response to his holding aloft of the limited edition Halo 3 hardware (“I wish I hadn’t bothered now, it was heavy. But hey, its association with me won’t stop it selling out instantly.”) As for the criticism from Buzz developer Relentless that Microsoft’s controller for Scene It resembles its own peripheral? “I don’t think they’ve patented big buttons, have they?”

Now it’s our Halo Nation friend’s turn to get twitchy. Talk of a controller for a movie-based mainstream trivia quiz is somewhat outside his remit.

But, whether he cares or not, he, like Moore, knows that it’s just further proof that Xbox 360 means more and more things to more and more people. Right here, right now.

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