The End of an Era?
When you think of Xbox the first thing that comes to mind is Halo, however it’s dwindling sales and disappointment amongst fans has led gamers to question the future of Xbox’s most iconic FPS. The series peaked in terms of sales with the all conquering Halo 3, the online ‘juggernaut’ that captured the imagination of casuals and hardcore gamers alike. However, recent games have failed to set the world alight with recent outing Halo 4 amassing only three quarters of Halo 3s sales numbers and faltering online in terms of players playing. Going back to 2007, few could of imagined Halo not being in the top 5 of the Xbox Live chart and even fewer could foresee the dominance Call Of Duty has on the console FPS market. Even the negatively received Halo Reach hit bigger lifetime numbers than Halo 4, but Halo 4 was not a bad game, so what gives?
So, what caused the slump?
Halo was once an unstoppable force, I remember booting up Halo 2 and pulling all nighters, missing work and putting my social life on hold for it’s ‘one more game’ draw. The games preceding 3 did not have this effect. Multiplayer became unbalanced, Master Chief was missing and the franchise got side tracked by stories unrelated to what we had previously played. Reach, Wars and ODST may have had Halo branding but they played/looked/felt far different to previous versions. Whilst Bungie was in this period of telling different stories of the Halo Universe the average gamer became bored and moved on to pastures new. Bungie felt the need to completely remove the multiplayer option from ODST and decided to take away all the good bits for Reach.
As much as I’d like to think games are sold for their solid campaign and multiplayer add-on it is unfortunately the other way round with todays gamer. The games lacked the multiplayer leveling system shown in Halo 2 and 3 which had proven a massive hit and kept gamers playing and wanting more, instead they opted for a progression based ranking system. This was a mere copycat of what Call of Duty was doing in attempt to prolong longevity which ultimately backfired and had an adverse effect. Halo 4 also decided to go against what the fans wanted and didn’t initially include this in the game, another poor move
Sci-Fi isn’t cool anymore
This could actually be Halos lifeline, the fact that the sci-fi genre has fell out of favor amongst gamers and has been on a downward spiral the last few years means the only way is up. Upcoming games like Titanfall and even Bungies very own Destiny could pave the way for Halo to become ‘cool’ again. The great thing about Sci-Fi fans is that they are pretty hardcore so I expect Halos huge fanbase to buy in to future projects, whether they can turn in round in terms of overall appeal lies on whether Halo can keep up with the current crop of games whilst not isolated fans of old, something Halo 4 didn’t do. A lot of fans where lost in the uprising of Call Of Duty, will they come back? 343, over to you.