Microsoft "Getting Requests" for Halo Games That Appeal to Younger Audience
Bonnie Ross also acknowledges that Halo overall story has gotten a little confusing.
Microsoft has not ruled out the idea of making Halo games that appeal to a wider, potentially younger audience. 343 Industries boss Bonnie Ross told Fast Company that there are no plans currently for this. However, she acknowledged that Microsoft is evaluating its options, especially of late, as people have asked Microsoft to make a Lego Halo game or something that skews to a younger audience.
Ross added that Microsoft will be sure to think about its core Halo fans and do right by them as it relates to potentially expanding the brand into new areas.
"Whether or not we do a game, I think we need to be really deliberate on the right game, because we can't alienate our core audience," Ross said. "I would say that when we first started the franchise, the thought of doing, like, a Lego Halo game was not something that our core fans thought was interesting, whereas now we're getting requests for that."
The newest Halo game, Halo 5: Guardians, was rated T-for-Teen, unlike past games in the series that were, to the bewilderment of some, rated M-for-Mature.
The Fast Company interview is mostly focused on non-gaming Halo merchandise. According to the report, the Halo franchise has brought in $5 billion since the first game came out in 2001. About 30 percent of that, or $1.5 billion, has come from consumer products like toys.
Ross explained that part of her job is to expand the reach of the Halo franchise, and this includes driving more revenue from non-gaming sources to catch up with other entertainment brands. For example, business magazine Fortune said last year that the Star Wars film series accounted for only $13.05 billion of the franchise's entire lifetime earnings of $41.98 billion.
Toy industry expert Lutz Muller is quoted in the Fast Company story saying that Microsoft's Halo merchandise revenue of $1.5 billion is minuscule compared to other major entertainment franchises.
"If you look at what Halo is doing, Microsoft, whatever they tell you, are not a factor in licensing merchandise, period. End of story," Muller said.
Microsoft recently signed a new partnership with Mattel for a series of Halo toys, including Mega-Bloks and more.
Muller said Microsoft needs to make a good Halo movie if it wants to make more money from Halo toys. "If they wanted to make it possible for toy companies and other license companies to get really interested in the brand and put some weight behind it, what I would suggest is, make a movie and make a successful one," he explained.
Microsoft tried to make a Halo movie with Peter Jackson, but it fell apart. The dream lived on among Halo fans and word spread that director Steven Spielberg was going to pick up the franchise in 2010. Then District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp expressed interest in taking on the project in 2013. However, in 2014, Microsoft confirmed that it has no plans for a Halo movie.
Spielberg is producing a Halo TV show for Showtime, but we don't know much about it.
Also in the Fast Company interview, Ross acknowledged that 343 has heard the feedback from fans about how the overarching Halo story has become somewhat confusing.
"The learning we're looking at right now is, How do we be a little bit more purist about the stories we tell in our games, and how do we make sure that we use our consumer products and all our novels and everything to tell the richer, deeper story?" Ross said. "Fans have definitely given us the feedback that we've had a little bit too much story out there."
She added: "When you look at how the overall [Star Wars] portfolio is managed, there is a lot, a lot of stuff out there. And not all of it is on canon. It's been very important for us to have a more curated, connected story."
Read the full Fast Company interview here.
Halo 5: Guardians is the newest entry in the mainline series. It launched a year ago this month and is still getting new expansions. Halo 6 is almost certainly on the way, though it has not yet been officially announced.
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