It’s startlingly obvious that the Halo franchise has been a success. And it deserves every plaudit, be it from retail or from the gamers themselves.
Though any successful franchise always has its detractors, what is so admirable about Halo is that it is a hit due to its quality.
So many mainstream entertainment franchises gain success through clever marketing, superstar backing or commercial branding.
Halo now sports these things, but it has only attracted them because at the core of it all is a masterpiece of a game. Its success has evolved from that starting point.
The finely-tuned single player combat of the first outing has since been joined by what still stands as probably the best multiplayer online console offering available. Halo 2 remains the most played game on Xbox Live (though I should imagine its crown will shortly be lost to Halo 3) for one reason – it’s brilliant.
Yet there has been one criticism of the Halo phenomenon in recent weeks that has bugged me more than anything – that Microsoft’s franchise is failing to expand the market, that it appeals only to the dedicated Xbox hardcore and that it fails to deliver the much sought-after new ways to play, and thus new gamers.
But what I find so satisfying about Microsoft’s success with Halo is that as a series it has been able to celebrate gaming and gamers as they really are. You know who you are – you’re like me.
We love Wii Sports, SingStar and Brain Training, but we were brought up on Doom, Sensible Soccer and Super Mario World. That’s our bread and butter. And that’s why now, even though we’re old enough to know better, we’re still just as happy spending the night playing Pro Evo or Ghost Recon as we are going down the pub or being dragged to Ikea by our other halves.
And we’re the people Halo is made for. It’s not made for my dad or for the tween demographic – it’s made for people who love gaming for what it has always been.
And at a time when the industry is so keen to celebrate the new faces joining our club and the new market opportunities available, it’s great to have a company and a title that still champions us – the people who made the industry what it is today, and who still love it for what it was yesterday.
Stand united people – we rule.