What I’m most concerned with is how long of a transition period there will be between the 360 and the XB1. I’ve heard it’s going to be 6 months. After which the 360 servers will be shut down.
Basically this time next year we’re not going to be able to play Halo 3, ODST, Halo Wars, Reach, and yes, even Halo 4 (unless it’s going to be available on the XB1). That being the case, I expect there to be a new Halo title at the XB1 launch.
There has been rampant speculation that Halo 2 Anniversary would be released. A distinct possibility, especially if it’s done similar to how Halo CE anniversary was done with basically a re-texturing of everything. However, if all the previous games are going to be shut down, the to keep Halo at the forefront, either Halo 2 Anniversary would have to have a multiplayer option (unlikely) OR…we will get Halo 5. And this is where it gets interesting folks.
We need to step back a few years and look at the transition of Halo from Bungie to 343 to see how Halo is going to play out from here on and where it will go to with the XBOX ONE.
So let’s take a look at some of the history of that up to present time and beyond.
Three years ago Halo Waypoint and 343 were just beginning. Frank O’Conner was the head guy at 343 or at least the figurehead for the public. He left Bungie to start 343/Halo Waypoint. Along with him a select few others from Bungie came over, most notably Vic Deleon.
In it’s early days Waypoint wasn’t much. You could track your achievements in a new way with Waypoint’s exclusive achievement scoring for JUST Halo games. New bits trickled in. These covering few things. Waypoint often crashed, well for me it did anyway. After several updates, there was more Halo new being put on Waypoint and it got a new look.
Some more time passed and Waypoint started tracking stats in Reach. During this time is when the transition from Bungie to 343 started to take place. Waypoint got a huge overhaul with a new look. Cryptic Forerunner glyphs were found and deciphered. (I’m proud to say that once all the glyphs were found I was once of the first to crack that code figuring out several of the glyphs alphanumeric symbol. Within 24 hours on Waypoint’s website the complete Forerunner glyph code was cracked and we knew all of those 5 letter codes had meaning and what those words were. Strangely enough, that section got shut down for a time shortly thereafter. Hmm, I wonder if our cracking the code so quickly had something to do with it.
At this time Bungie released most of it’s control on Halo to 343. When 343 took over there was no initial file share, IIRC. This did come back though. Mid summer that year Bungie saw it’s last hurrah with Halo and the keys to Halo were finally and officially handed over to 343. In the meantime, word got out that 343 had been working on a Halo title all along. This turned out to be Halo CE Anniversary. 343 contracted much of the work out to another company who retexturized the game to have updated graphics, those game mechanics and their glitches still persisted (to the joy of many a long time fan of Halo). We also knew that 343 was working on Halo 4 and SLOWLY news and info started to trickle out.
When 343 was formed it wasn’t fully staffed as it is now. They had to find the people to fill the studio and looked to many game developers who had worked on AAA game titles. They picked up Jesse Snyder from CoD (Who has since left 343), among others with credible experience. This time was a tumultuous one for 343 as they were not only trying to get a studio up and running, they were trying to staff it with the best and brightest, formulate procedures and oh yeah…design Halo 4. Microsoft was on them to be sure. And no in hindsight we can see several reasons why.
Going back to E3 last year, we saw a nervous group of 343 personnel who breathed a HEAVY sigh of relief when Halo 4 was heralded in as a hit of E3. The game still wasn’t finished and had a long way to go and time was running out for the November deadline. They had SO much to accomplish in their last 6 months before launch. Microsoft wouldn’t let them bend on the release date as there was going to be a Call of Duty game released in the same month and they wanted to be ahead of them and recapture old fans from CoD as well as garner new fans. To do this, Halo changed. MANY long time fans of the franchise were not happy, in fact many are still not, but will get to that. Halo changed to be more accessible to fans of first person shooter (FPS) games. Frank O’Conner came out and said that there would be no public BETA. This to much dismay of we fans. Yet again, there was a reason. Not only would a BETA slow down production for which 343 just did not have the time for, it’s apparent they knew that the massive overhaul done to game mechanics would not be met with open arms by long time fans. It’s still up for debate if those changes to the game were from on high at Microsoft or done at the 343 level. Regardless, 343 being part of Microsoft, it didn’t matter to most fans. Halo had changed.
Since the release of Halo 4 we’ve had three major map pack DLCs and a minor one in the form of Forge Island. People wonder why.
I’m here to tell you that why. TRANSITION.
Halo 4′s shelf life was only meant to be a couple of years. Knowing that the XBOX ONE was being developed, 343 had to get all this content out well before the launch of the XB1. Why? Simple enough, to make money of the game and it’s DLC packs. Releasing them later this year with the XB1 looming and there being no backwards compatibility, how many of us would have bought all the map packs? Want to know why we’re not getting back some of those much desired features like theater for campaign/Spartan Ops? Simple again, no time to do so before XB1′s launch. And with it coming out roughly 6 months form now, the need to have it in the game from 343′s perspective just wasn’t there. Especially when…they are already working on the next Halo title. Not to mention the wonderful news of a LIVE-action Halo TV series, produced by no less than Steven Spielberg himself!
So, where does this leave us?
Well, let me just repost that second paragraph from this article again:
Basically this time next year we’re not going to be able to play Halo 3, ODST, Halo Wars, Reach, and yes, even Halo 4 (unless it’s going to be available on the XB1) over LIVE. That being the case, I expect there to be a new Halo title at the XB1 launch.
You see, with there being a rumored 6 month transition the schedule of the transition looks roughly like this (date can change of course, so take this with a grain of salt and we should learn more from E3 this year).
Summer 2013: XBOX 360 launches a pseudo XB1 dashboard. It will look similar to the XB1 dash but not with all the functionality. This is to get people used to the general layout of the XB1 dash to help ease the transition.
November 2013: XB1 launches.
May 2014: XBOX 360 servers are shut down for good.
There is NO way Microsoft is going to have it’s new console live without a new Halo title supporting it. As said before Halo 2 Anniversary won’t cut it. Yes, fans want it, but it’s seen as a step back toward gaining NEW gamers to the franchise. So they MUST put out a new title. That leads us to Halo 5. Is it possible that 343 was working on BOTH games at the same time? Yes indeed. It also would explain why there were many of the options we’ve had in previous Halo games NOT be in Halo 4. Not enough time to get it in, not enough personnel to do it and with Halo 4′s life not being more than a year and a half, no apparent need…when we’re going to get ALL those features back in Halo 5 and MORE.
This would also explain why we have had no hard news on Spartan Ops Season Two. We fans expected season two to follow very shortly after season one. The verbage 343 gave us led many to believe these season would be concurrent with little to no lag between episodes. So now we fans had to face the very real possibility that Spartan Ops season two wouldn’t show up until Halo 5, which we THOUGHT was 3 years away.
Let’s also consider some Halo licensee news here. Mega Bloks showed at New York Toy Fair in February this year some NEW sets. Those were called Reverse Engineering and Prototyping–Xenotechnology or REAP-X. Doing my best to find out when those toys would be released, the best news I could get was fall this year. That makes sense for both/either the Halo TV show and/or the next Halo game. Having toys released to coincide with the new game just makes total sense. FLOOD the market with Halo. TV show, game, and toys.
Now, it’s possible that the new Halo game won’t be Halo 5 and could be an offshoot. However, long time fans do not find the appeal in that. Reach (for as much as I personally enjoyed it) wasn’t well received by many other long time fans. It wasn’t a Master Chief story. Even Halo 3: ODST which was a superb game still wasn’t as popular due to it not being a Master Chief story. This is why there was SO much expectation for Halo 4. It was the return of Master Chief. So…343 in this short time has either been working on Halo 5 to coincide with the XB1 launch or an offshoot as well as possibly Halo 2 anniversary. That is a LOT to have on your plate. It also makes a ton of sense why they’ve been hiring yet MORE developers. At a time when you’d think they’d either downsize a little after a major launch or at least stay stable in size, no, 343 is GROWING.
Let me once again go back to that second paragraph…Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Reach, Halo Wars and Halo 4…gone from LIVE capability. Microsoft/343 MUST have a Halo title ready at launch. They can ill afford to have Call of Duty: Ghosts beat them to the punch. They must have a title ready to go as well and it needs to be a fully realized title. Not an off shoot, not a Halo Wars 2 (though I still hope that comes out).
Now from the XB1 announcement we heard that there will be 15 games at launch. With 8 of those being new franchises. SO…that means some of these are going to be returning franchises. We already know from the announcement that FIFA, Forza and CoD will be some of those. Do you really think Halo WON’T be one of those?
E3 is just three weeks away. I for one am VERY excited to see/hear what comes out of that. I’d be VERY surprised if we didn’t get news of a new Halo game in development. We all know 343 is very secretive in their development and it would make sense to leave the announcement of a new game for E3 since they already had the Halo TV show as the Halo news for the XB1 announcement.
Whew, okay, yes, I know that was a long article. But I just HAD to get that all out.
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