Microsoft want Halo 3’s initial launch-day revenues to exceed that of $155 million, thus besting the last instalment of the popular Spiderman franchise, which only mustered a measly $151 million. Since the Master Chief is a better actor than Tobey Maguire and more attractive than Kirsten Dunst, I don’t think this is an overly-optimistic objective, and neither do the analysts.
Since Microsoft don’t seem to concern themselves with minor details such as the fact that games cost significantly more than movie tickets, let’s ask a more pertinent question; is Halo 3 even deserving of the hype? Microsoft’s marketing campaign could be likened to a full-scale military campaign, drafting in support from allied forces such as Burger King, Pepsi and Pontiac to name but a few, in an effort to smite us with Halo’s considerable promotional artillery; ‘Halo 3 Mountain Dew – now with 30% more market penetration!‘
However, whilst I have no doubt that Halo 3 will prove to be entertaining, I’m skeptical that it will be worthy of the degree of hype that has been heaped upon it. Other titles, such as Bioshock, have received much attention in the media, although the huge majority of this seems well-deserved and, more importantly, has been generated by the gaming community as opposed to the might of Microsoft’s marketing dreadnought. Bioshock not only offers something different in terms of visuals and the production design itself, but also in terms of gameplay elements and the extent to which these elements can be customized according to player preference and the situation the player finds themselves in. At least from the pre-release marketing, Halo 3 doesn’t seem to advance the genre or the franchise much at all, instead favoring better graphics and a handful of new vehicles, environments and weapons to differentiate itself from it’s predecessors. Is this enough to warrant the scale of the marketing assault? Do gamers even want innovation in high-profile franchise sequels?
Whilst I’m most definitely in favor of games being taken more seriously as an entertainment medium, the games that garner such attention as this have to be deserving of the hype, and as of right now I remain unconvinced.