You know a company plans to go big with a game when it starts the marketing for it almost a year in advance.
That's precisely what Xbox has done with Halo 5: Guardians, the latest in the 65 million unit-selling sci-fi super franchise.
We have considerable expectations for Halo 5: Guardians and are confident the game will meet fans' hopes,” Xbox UK content and services boss Amanda Farr says. Halo 5 will be our biggest release on Xbox One to date.”
In the UK, Xbox's Halo 5 push started with a multiplayer beta in January in which 20m matches were played. Since then, the firm has been running an ad campaign featuring the title. Farr says that over 80 per cent of UK gamers will have already seen the advertising.
Recently, Xbox ramped up its marketing push as the game approached its launch today (October 27th). And, clearly, fans are paying attention – the firm's most recent trailer has been watched by a huge 1.6m people on YouTube.
The aim of our marketing has been to ensure our campaign has been both engaging and accessible to the broadest audience possible – from the fans who have been playing Halo games since the start to newcomers who are starting their Halo story with Guardians,” Farr says.
We have reached players through as many touch points as possible and this campaign has been very much a two-way conversation with user-generated feedback being integral throughout – from the multiplayer beta, experiential at events such as EGX and the direct feedback that we receive from the community. The engagement that we have seen has been amongst our highest.”
"This has been one of the most successful and exciting campaigns we have worked on to date."
Amanda Farr, Xbox UK
One strand of the marketing push has been the ‘Hunt the Truth' campaign, a series of audio logs which has seen a journalist from the world of Halo investigating series protagonist Master Chief.
Hunt the Truth has been very successful; it has been a great opportunity to engage gamers through many different touch points – both within and outside of the episodic series,” Farr explains.
The campaign has been visible across TV, cinema, online and social media. We have had positive feedback – in the last 10 days alone, we've had over 10m UK viewers on our most recent trailer. This has been one of the most successful and exciting campaigns we have worked on to date, and there's still lots more to come.”
At Gamescom, Microsoft announced it was was making an even bigger push into the lucrative eSports market. The firm even promised a $1m prize pool for the first Halo World Championship.
This is the largest investment in multiplayer in the franchise's history, with skill-based classic modes designed for eSports and competitive gamers,” Farr says.
Whilst eSports has always been an important element within the franchise, this is the first time that we are fully embracing it, with the biggest investment in Xbox eSports history, so we have high ambitions for the game within the competitive scene.”
Of course, this Christmas, Halo 5 faces a different kind of competition – the shooter genre. Ubisoft is launching Rainbow Six and Activision has Call of Duty, while EA is releasing Star Wars Battlefront. That last title is arguably Halo's biggest rival this Q4 in the sci-fi genre.
This Christmas has some fantastic releases for Xbox One and we are incredibly proud to have such an amazing variety of first and third-party titles for gamers to choose from,” Farr says.
Battlefront is a great example of why there has never been a better time to upgrade to Xbox One.
We are incredibly confident in the success both at launch and beyond for Halo 5: Guardians.”