- May 18, 2020
This paragraph represents the biggest issue I have with your argument.
I don't think Microsoft views Halo as a "top 10" type game. Halo is their crown jewel. It is the alpha and the omega for them. They're closing in on 6 years of development with their largest studio. They're pushing high end XBox Series X's, low end XBox Series S's, PC's, last gen XBox's, and phones with this Halo. The studio has had Eminem's Lose Yourself blaring on loop the last 5.5 years. 18 percent of the studio has committed suicide due to the pressure, I think.
Microsoft looks (rightfully so) at games like Fortnite and CoD Warzone as their competition. If Halo settles in at the 5-10 spot, that's a failure.
Additionally, I think the industry stumbled on their analytics revolution. Their 3 point line. Their corsi. Their on base percentage. Games that encourage the social aspect, and value low skill players are running roughshod over the competition.
You claimed 343i was "short sighted" by not going back to traditional Halo 3 style multiplayer. I'm not sure how looking in the rearview mirror can be viewed as forward facing.
The industries future isn't a spiritual successor to 2007's Halo 3.
If toppling Fortnite or COD is the goal and 5-10 is a failure I don't see them being successful. Halo 5's hardly left a mark on the charts much less the top 10. I think they could do a lot with a classic style shooter-especially given how well Siege, Valorant, and CS continue to do. There is a market there if they decide to go that route.
I wouldn't describe it as looking the rearview mirror but instead building upon what worked. There are a bunch of Halo YouTube personalities out there that have beat a dead horse on the subject but the innovation in Halo should come from the sandbox not the player character-Halo 2 introduced dual wielding, grav lifts, fusion coils, interactive maps w/ switches + conveyer-belts, vehicle boarding, the energy sword amongst a host of other vehicles and weapons. Halo 3 introduced more grenade options, shield doors, detachable turrets, forge, man cannons, and equipment. Some of these changes really landed and some were not as well liked by the community. The great thing is they could be turned on or off with customization tools and Bungie made liberal use of that in the matchmaking playlists. When you innovate via the sandbox the core experience stays familiar and the world gets bigger with more possibilities. That isn't to say there isn't any room for refinement movement speed, FOV, cursor placement, etc are all things that core fans would like tuned but not changed entirely.
Halo 5 does not resonate with core Halo fans but does well to appeal to the mass market. It is incredibly accessible with a lot of elements common to other FPS titles on the market but it doesn't do much to retain players because the experience while easy for any FPS fan to enjoy doesn't offer much that is truly unique and differentiating. To that end Halo 5 failed-it didn't satisfy longtime fans but did not successfully pull in new fans either.
You Wayne Gretzky photo (great quote btw) was funny to me because a good friend of mine compares Halo 4/5 to FoxTrax. New viewers loved how accessible the puck tracking made the broadcast while hockey fans hated it. The problem was the new viewers weren't really that interested in hockey to begin with and didn't care to keep watching despite the fact that they generally liked the change. Same situation with Halo. Old fans largely hate the changes and new fans are interested enough to stick around. Hockey has become bigger and bigger over the years as a result of building on the fans that were already there rather than alienating them and trying to coax other fans to watch. Halo needs to do the same-if the game is changed to appeal to more players it probably won't do much beyond alienating the old fans. It isn't looking in the rearview mirror it is taking that core experience that people love forward.
That is what I want for Halo. Build on the old, fine tune things that the fans want, innovate via the sandbox and not the player's abilities, and keep iterating. If the Halo core catches on it will keep on building overtime. It won't be #1 overnight but it will keep gaining momentum just like when Halo 1, Overwatch, COD 4, Siege, etc.