Bungie Waves Goodbye to Ten Years of Halo
Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved is widely credited as the game that single-handedly put Microsoft’s Xbox Console on the map. Released in November of 2001, it rapidly began to break records selling over one million units just a few months later in April 2002. It would go on to sell over five million copies and forever associate the Master Chief, Halo, and Bungie with the Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles.
Halo has become a cultural phenomenon on a scale that only popular sci-fi juggernauts such as Star Wars and Star Trek have seen. Books, comics, action figures, and even LEGO collections have been marketed to the masses. Square Enix also has a Kai Arts collection of Halo Reach action figures. To top it all, a costuming community, the 405th (similar to the Star Wars dedicated 501st), was created with its members known to show up a conventions and Halo related events. It has also popularized the world of Machinima, using Video Games or similar media to create movies or shows such as This Spartan Life, The Codex Series, and the outrageously popular Red vs. Blue. Bungie has welcomed the use of their games for this manner, and even featured these shows on their own website. They have made it very clear that the communities that surround their creations mean the world to them. And to show their appreciation, they created Bungie Day.
July 7, 2007 marked Bungie’s first ever community holiday. Bungie Day was celebrated by detailing new information, screenshots and armor permutation reveals for the upcoming game Halo 3. Downloadable content through Xbox Live was also made available to mark the event with Gamerpics, Xbox Dashboard Theme, and by making the Halo 2 Blastacular Map Pack a free download permanently. Ever since, Bungie has made an annual habit of showering their fans with free downloads, announcements, and most recently their coveted Recon Armor and Blue Flames that were only available to members of Bungie and their close friends.
This last July 7th marked their fifth and final Bungie Day celebrating Halo. They will be officially handing over the reigns of the highly successful franchise to Microsoft’s 343 Industries on August 2nd to continue on without them. Bungie has managed to create some of the greatest franchises in history (we’ll all conveniently forget that they made Oni as well) with Halo, Marathon and Myth. And as they ride off into the sunset, we all know that they have great things in store for us in the future. However, many fans like me wonder what will become of the universe that we’ve come to know and love.
343 Industries have announced the release of a remade version of the original Halo, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition with what looks to be the retooled Halo 3 engine running it. Also, they recently announced Halo 4 at this year’s 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo. But fans still wonder: will it be the same? Even Bungie has found themselves under intense scrutiny regarding the Halo canon with their most recent release Halo: Reach. For days, fans poured through the storyline of Reach looking at every detail to make sure that it had fit together with the events that took place in the highly acclaimed novels Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: First Strike. And you can be sure that Halo’s new stewards will be met with an even more intense level of scrutiny than those who birthed the franchise.
There is no doubt that the folks at 343 have some very big shoes to fill, and much like their sci-fi counterparts, fans of the Halo Universe will not waver as they watch these new creators closely. 343 Industries had better beware the fates of those who decide to re-envision a franchise at the cost of original canon. I’m sure that Rick Berman could give them a lesson or two in what the scorn of a fan community can do to one’s soul…or career.
In either case, we tip our hats to Bungie, the greatest video game company in the world. We thank them for giving us the greatest franchise to ever grace the Xbox platform. And we patiently await news of the wondrous new universe they’re dreaming up for us right now. Only time will tell. But we all know one thing…
…it will be no less than spectacular.
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