The next “Halo” game, “Halo 5: Guardians,” comes out really soon, on October 27. That’s just five days from now.
Despite its naming convention, the game is actually the tenth game in the series (depending on how you’re counting, there are a handful of spin-offs that you may or may not consider as official canon).
The game that started it all, though, was “Halo: Combat Evolved.” You likely remember it as the game that made people buy the original Xbox. And that’s true! But it almost wasn’t true. It was almost an Apple exclusive! Really!
Don’t believe me? Here’s Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs introducing “Halo: Combat Evolved” to the public for its big debut back at the Macworld Expo in 1999:
“We are starting to see some great games come back to the Mac,” Jobs said in 1999, hyping up his coming announcement. “But this is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. This game is going to ship early next year from Bungie, and this is the first time anybody has ever seen it.”
Just one year later, Microsoft announced it had purchased Bungie and “Halo” would become an Xbox exclusive. Sounds like a coup, right? It totally was.
Such a coup, in fact, that the success of the first “Halo” game become one of the pillars of the success of the original Xbox. The head of Xbox during that era was Robbie Bach, who recently wrote a book named “Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal.” In it, he details how important stealing “Halo” away from Apple was.
My net takeaway is that the business somehow survived a hellishly difficult incubation. That survival, that precarious perch on the edge of the marketplace, can be attributed to three achievements: the creation of the ‘Halo’ franchise, the eventual success of the Xbox Live business, and the fostering of strong relationships with key publishing partners like Electronic Arts and Activision.
Nearly 20 years later, “Halo” is still a crucial franchise for the Xbox brand. This year’s “Halo 5: Guardians” is no exception, as one of the tentpoles of this year’s big holiday push on the Xbox One.
And just to think, it might’ve been a Macintosh exclusive.
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