Okay, it's time to settle this debate about "milking."
I'm going to prove that absolutely nothing about the Halo series has been "milked" any more than successful franchises such as Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Tekken, or Resident Evil. I'm then going to point out the game that truly is a perfect definition of the word "milking."
Webster's dictionary defines this particular definition of the word "Milk" as:
"To draw or coerce profit or advantage from illicity or to an extreme degree."
The word "illicit" is defined as "unlawful" or "not permitted." Obviously, there is nothing unlawful about releasing software, so we will focus on the other end of the stick, which is "to an extreme degree."
There are only three games in the Halo trilogy focused on Spartan soldier Master Chief John 117, and only one of those games is on Xbox 360. I certainly don't think that is any type of "extreme degree."
Halo 3: ODST is a full game that stops focusing on Spartan soldiers in order to look at things from the point of view of human soldiers known as Shock Troopers. Halo 3: ODST even adds a new mode of survival Co-Op play known as FireFight, which has never before been seen in a Halo game. There is only one Halo game of this kind that has ever been created, so that certainly isn't any type of "extreme degree."
Halo Wars is a Real-Time Strategy game, which is a completely different genre than the other Halo games, which are First-Person Shooters. Only one of these types of Halo Wars RTS games has ever been created. Obviously, this is not any type of "extreme" degree.
Halo: Reach has not yet been released, but when it is released it will be very unique. Halo: Reach takes place prior to the first game in the series--Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo: Reach is the first game in the series where we will see the focus on "multiple" Spartan soldiers who are different from one another. This will provide incredible depth to the game in new ways that have not been seen before. Obviously, the only type of "extreme degree" Halo: Reach might be associated with is the number of "firsts" it brings to the Halo series, which is an excellent quality.
On the PC there are only two Halo games available. Certainly this isn't any form of "extreme degree."
And if you look at the Cumulative Total of Halo games ever created and compare them to a series like Mario, Sonic, Metroid, or Final Fantasy, you will see that Halo is certainly not the game series that has an "extreme degree" of games. For example, Final Fantasy 14 on the consoles represents far more of an "extreme degree" than Halo does.
The simple fact is, it is 100% alright to keep on making different games in a series as long as the software is highly rated and continues to sell well -- accomplishments which Halo games always achieve.
Did you catch what I said above: It is alright to keep on making "different" games in a series. The term "milking" seriously comes into play when you continue to try and produce the "same" individual game with the "same" name over and over and over (yes, three times) during the same console generation. After all, every time you "milk" a cow, the exact same thing squirts out with the exact same name.
The textbook example of a game that is being "milked" to an "extreme degree" is Gran Turismo 5.
For example, we first saw a game released called Gran Turismo 5 Concepts, which was simply a demo, so no harm done. But then we saw a $40 version released to the public known as Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. This is quite expensive for what is essentially a larger "demo" of an incomplete game, especially since the game received mixed reviews and has the score of only an 80 on Metacritic. When Gran Turismo 5 is released in 2010, it will cost $60. This means we will have seen a whopping three versions of the exact same game with the exact same name of Gran Turismo 5 with a total of $100 as its price for all the versions.
This holds the record in any generation of console gaming in regards to "drawing or coercing profit or advantage to an extreme degree."
Webster's dictionary points out that the word "exploit" can be used as a synonym for the intransivitive verb of "milking." This definition of the word "exploit" is:
"To make use of meanly or unfairly for one's own advantage."
I think the developers of all software try and create great games. Nobody is going to accuse the developers of Halo of meanly developing software for their own advantage. Each time a Halo game is released, consumers are very happy to purchase the product because it is fun for them to play. It is a win-win scenario where the consumers get to play and have fun, while the developers get to enjoy a monetary profit.
$60 is a standard price for a standard videogame. Great games like Halo 3, Gears of War 2, and Modern Warfare 2 have additional forms of custom versions that come with things like Helmets, Lancers, or Night Vision goggles for up to $149. In this scenario you are purchasing something extra because you desire something extra. It is a win-win scenario.
But look how Gran Turismo 5 is very different. By the time you purchase the "entire" game for $40 plus $60, it will have cost you $100. The publisher of Gran Turismo 5 will have taken advantage of all the mean software delays in an unfair way by charging people $40 for an unfinished "Prologue" version of the game, and then charging another $60 once the game is complete.
According to the dictionary definition, Gran Turismo 5 is the game that is being "milked" to an extreme degree more than any other game. Consumers are being exploited with Prologue versions of games as a result of delays in the finished product.
Note: I am not referring to the Gran Turismo "series," which does have a cumulative total of games higher than Halo -- especially when you count the portable versions. There is nothing wrong with creating sequels to a game series like Gran Turismo. I am simply referring "specifically" to Gran Turismo 5. The bottom line is that three versions of the same game adding up to $100 is too much--it is an extreme degree. If we are going to focus on "milking" let's focus on the game that is doing it to the most extreme degree: Gran Turismo 5.