Microsoft put out the word that Halo 5: Guardians will be coming out late 2015, three years after the last iteration. The Xbox team is really taking their time on this one with a release date well over a year away, conveniently around the time the TV show is set to premier. Halo is a mega-selling A-list title and now that the fifth iteration is coming to Xbox One with a TV show Microsoft might be hoping the attention it garners can resurrect console sales and guard against future defeat by PS4.
Microsoft chose to make this announcement weeks before the massive gaming gathering E3, taking place the second week in June. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is the year’s biggest stateside communion of media, privileged consumers (since it is no longer open to the public) and companies in the fun tech arena. Each of the three major console developers takes to the stage and makes grandiose promises to the press about what to expect in the coming year. Previous E3 announcements included Halo 4, the return of Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Xbox smart glass (not Smart Glasses) a program that improves connectivity between devices that was Microsoft’s answer to Wii U’s GamePad. Of course, announcements at these events usually come with impressive game-play videos, demos or near-movie-length trailers, and the announcement about Halo 4 was not an exception. For now, it seems that only 5’s cover shots and concept art have been made available to the press, so Microsoft may be holding something back to wow audiences on the E3 floor or on the stage during their global media briefing. At last year’s E3, 343 studio head Bonnie Ross said “Your journey begins in 2014,” so the media is waiting to see what Halo 5: Guardians goodies come from this year’s Xbox booth.
The TV show will come out around the same time as the game, in fall of 2015 either on Showtime or on Xbox Live, or both. It is not the first series to spin off of the game, but this will be the first produced by Steven Spielberg. The live action show began as a film project announced in 2005. Universal and Fox put together a stellar lineup to support the film, including Neill Blomkamp as director, Alex Garland (of 28 Days Later) as writer, and Peter Jackson as producer. Unfortunately, the blame for putting the project on hold was split between Microsoft, Universal and Fox. Microsoft’s demands might have been the cause of that deal’s failure as their requirements for the movie made it fiscally impossible for the other participants. Jackson blamed Universal and Fox and their “politics” for the end of the Halo live action movie. In any case, all involved parties agreed that there is less risk involved with a show than with a full length film. The risk is still there of course, since Master Chief remains impassively helmeted. No plot points or main characters have been announced.
The last Halo brought in $300 million in the first week, so Microsoft’ projections for the next installment are high, though it is unclear if it will be enough to resurrect Xbox One console sales compared to PS4. That is, if sales of Xbox One are still dead by then. Considering the decision not to force the Xbox One peripheral Kinect on consumers reduces the price by about $100, more hard-core gamers may be willing to buy the console. With a spin off show on actual television, a new graphics engine and dedicated 60 fps servers, Halo 5: Guardians should be yet another great game in the Xbox exclusive franchise. The quality of the show, though, is still up for debate.
By Aliya Tyus-Barnwell