Following the cash bonanza that was the release of Halo Reach, Microsoft has confirmed that it intends to increase the rate at which it pumps out new Halo titles.
There’s no explicit strategy that says we’re to ship a Halo game every year,” Microsoft Game Studios’ corporate VP Phil Spencer told IGN. I will say I think one Halo game every three years – which was kind of our old cadence – is probably not frequent enough.
We definitely think about a more persistent Halo engagement for customers and not going dark for two years, and Live helps obviously with multiplayer to keep people engaged.”
Spencer also went on to praise the job Activision has done in transforming Call of Duty into a successful annual brand:
I used to look at annual releases of non-sports games as people just trying to milk me. I figured nobody had enough time to do a good job, and all of the negatives that we would associate with those kinds of scenarios. Kudos to Activision because they’ve done a good job building a good game, continuing to release each year and I think the fans feel like it’s a good thing that they do that.
I think there are some things to learn, some positives and some opportunities, in what they do with that. Obviously they’ve kept the quality extremely high, which I think is important.
We have some unique challenges and opportunities with Halo because it is a story based game built around a certain set of characters, which is a bit different than what they do with Call of Duty. Not better or worse, it’s just different. But watching them and seeing what they do – we take inspiration from a lot of places – but obviously they’re a big success.”
Of course, Halo Reach was the last game in the series to be developed by Bungie, with Microsoft’s internal studios 343 Industries now assuming control of the brand. It’s the ideal time for a strategic shift, with Microsoft possibly free to split the studio down the middle, put the game on a two-year development cycle and pump out a new release every Christmas.
343 Industries is thinking a lot about how to take this franchise and turn it into something that people feel like they have an ongoing relationship with and they can entertain themselves more often,” Spencer added.
But it’s not, hey every November 6th or whatever we have to ship a game and build a production plan around that. We want to do things that make sense as a first party.”