Microsoft Cash Grab: Halo Edition

By Jonathan Barnes, 6 years ago
A few weeks ago, the interwebs exploded with a (strongly-suggested) rumor that 343 Studios is working on a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved otherwise known as “the reason Xbox exists” and “the reason most of us C-minused our way through school”. The remake is rumored to be running on the Halo: Reach engine and would coincide with the tenth anniversary of its release on the old Xbox. Feel free to read full coverage of the rumor here.

As you might expect, the comments section here at TA lit up like Las Vegas with opinions ranging from, “This will be awesome!” to the ever-laughable, “Halo Sucks”. The most interesting responses, however were in the vein of, “This is another shameless cash-grab by Microsoft.”

Without trying to get all “businessy”, the last statement is true. It would be a cash-grab by Microsoft, just like them publishing ANY game. The games business (from a publisher standpoint) is ALL about making money. With that in mind, it’s always the publisher’s best decision to release games that they believe will sell, generate/retain a fan base, and garner good reviews. Like it or not, Halo is Microsoft’s cash cow, without it, we wouldn’t have Xbox as we know it. It’s kind of like your family: they may get on your nerves now and then and you may see a bit too much of them at times, but without them, you probably wouldn’t be where you are today.

However, I’m digressing, the point/discussion is: Would a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved be good for gamers?

Let’s check out a comparable situation:

In November of 2009, Sony released the God of War Collection which remastered God of War and God of War II in HD. The game sold just over 1.7 million copies (interesting footnote: God of War originally sold 3.75 million copies and God of War II sold just under 3.5 million copies) and was received very well by critics and gamers alike. One of the main motivations for the re-release was to whet gamers’ appetites in advance of the March 2010 release of God of War III (which also went on to sell well over 3 million copies).

Now let’s compare that to the Halo franchise. Halo: Combat Evolved originally sold just short of 6.5 million copies. If Microsoft does a dollars-to-dollars evaluation of this situation (comparing the God of War Collection sales to the same sales potential of a remade Halo: Combat Evolved), they can’t help but be interested in the potential profits. Furthermore, if the remake is released a quarter or two before the inevitable release of Halo 4, it could easily keep Halo in the front of gamers’ consciousness. So, on the business front, it more than makes sense.

With that in mind, there is one very big caveat about doing a major artistic revamp/renovation of a classic:

In the mid-90‘s, Academy Award-nominated director Gus Van Sant decided to do a shot-for-shot remake of a classic film. He got an all star cast and went to work. In 1998, he released his remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Pyscho. To put it bluntly, the movie bombed… it bombed hard… it bombed bad… it did so poorly and was so badly received that most people chose to forget that it ever existed and only refer to the 1960, black-and-white original.

Games, on the whole, are a totally different business, especially when a lot of the same Bungie talent that made the Halo franchise what it is is now employed at 343 Studios, but it still merits suggesting.

So, for the sake of fun, let’s assume that this project IS happening and we can expect a shiny, Reach engine-powered, achievement loaded Halo: Combat Evolved at some point around Holiday 2011, what would it take for YOU to buy it?

Personally, if they did all of the above, packaged it with a complete multiplayer suite (akin to what they did with Halo 3: ODST and gave us a Firefight mode that included the Flood, I would be preordering NOW.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.