Fans will get their hands on the latest Halo video game this week, as Microsoft celebrates 20 years of the franchise that made its Xbox console a success.
Halo Infinite was released on Wednesday – but to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the cult sci-fi series, Microsoft and developer 343 Industries have already released a free âbetaâ test version.
Less than an hour after its launch on November 15, some 100,000 people were logged in to play simultaneously via the online platform Steam, in a taste of the excitement surrounding the sixth installment’s return to a space war of the 26th century.
âThe entire Halo community has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this game,â said Jenn, 28, a competitive Halo player known as the game Queen x3.
“The beta was a lot of fun and created a lot more excitement ahead of the official launch.”
As for the appeal of the game, seen through the eyes of a heavily armed cyber soldier, she said it was in the thrill of the challenge.
âHalo is truly one of the most competitive first-person shooter games out there – not many people can pick up a controller for the first time and be great.â
Set in a future where humans colonized many planets, Halo: Combat Evolved arrived in November 2001 as the first game for Microsoft’s all-new Xbox console.
The series quickly became what is known as a “killer app” – the product that boosts Xbox sales – as Microsoft sought to transform itself into an American rival to Japanese Nintendo and Sony in the already lucrative console market. games.
Two decades later, Xbox remains a key player in a video game industry now considered larger than the movie business, with market research firm Mordor Intelligence valuing it at $ 173.7 billion (around Rs. 13.05.820 crore) in 2020.
Its Xbox Live platform has pioneered the transformation of online gaming into a social phenomenon, with people logging in to play against friends or strangers. It now has over 100 million monthly users.
The Xbox console is still far behind the Japanese behemoths, with around 6.7 million sales by 2021 against nearly 90 million Nintendo Switch and 12.8 million PlayStation 5, according to an analysis by AmpÃ¨re.
But the latest versions of the Xbox, X Series and S are the best-selling in company history, according to Microsoft.
âIt’s not like the title is needed to get consoles off the shelves, although that will certainly help increase demand,â NPD games analyst Mat Piscatella said of the new version of Halo.
Red ring of death
The game series – which has sold 91 million copies – has spawned an entire media franchise, with movies, books, comics, and an upcoming TV series starring the The Wire actor. Pablo Schreiber as the Master Chief protagonist.
It even spawned the phrase Halo Killer, meaning a game good enough to beat its success.
Joshua “Mash” Mashlan, professional trainer for the Halo esports tournaments, remembers his rise as a time when, ultimately, “you weren’t a nerd to love the game.”
“Everyone wanted to play,” the 28-year-old told AFP.
He was so excited about the beta release last month that he took a day off to play it, and enjoyed it despite “a lot of little issues.”
âIt’s a new start for a game we’ve been playing for 20 years,â he said.
It’s a pleasant surprise for a title whose release has been delayed by more than a year, in part because of complications related to COVID-19 teleworking but also to player criticism of the first illustrations, ridiculed as basic.
Microsoft has launched a host of initiatives to mark two decades of Halo and the Xbox, including a virtual museum exploring key moments in console history.
These include the infamous ‘red ring of death’ crisis in 2007 when a fault caused massive console failures, resulting in an ominous red glowing light on the box. The resulting recall cost Microsoft over $ 1 billion (approximately Rs. 7,520 crore).