Considering Halo 4 is developer 343 Industries‘ first retail release — albeit a highly anticipated one — it’s fair to say the project is easily their most ambitious. What is surprising, as revealed by Phil Spencer today, is the fact it is also the most expensive game Microsoft has ever produced, by far.

Considering the game has fully featured single player, multiplayer, and cooperative components it’s easy to see why a game like Halo 4 wouldn’t be cheap to produce, especially considering the marketing budget Microsoft must have sunk into the project. But knowing it is their most expensive paints the game in an entirely different light.

Speaking with Polygon, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer revealed that not only is Halo 4 the most expensive game the company has ever made, but that Halo has become a $3 billion franchise. He didn’t say much more than that, as the piece was more focused on the development of Halo 4 as a whole, but it is quite the shocking revelation considering the company has put out some equally ambitious projects like Gears of War and Fable. Nevertheless, Halo has been Microsoft’s flagship franchise for a while now, so an increasing investment is presumably a byproduct of keeping the cash cow healthy.

It’s unclear if dubbing Halo 4 Microsoft’s most expensive game takes into account the aforementioned marketing, which itself includes a healthy plethora of live-action content including a trailer produced by David Fincher and the Forward Unto Dawn series.

To say that a lot of fans are counting on Halo 4 to deliver would be a huge understatement, but nevertheless the pressure seems to be building on multiple fronts. While, in light of pre-order numbers and growing fan excitement, it’s hard to see Halo 4 failing, knowing that Microsoft has a lot (the most) riding on this project makes its success equally important to all parties involved.

Halo 4 Ragnarok Screenshot 8

Furthermore, this revelation about Halo 4 being exceedingly expensive paints the reveal of the War Games Pass in a completely new light — suggesting that Microsoft wants to hedge their bets on an additional investment from consumers. Yes, the Season Pass has become the lifeblood of the multiplayer shooter (even Call of Duty is adopting one for Black Ops 2), but it’s still sad to see each franchise fall in line with the others.

343 has already explained that Halo 4 is the first part in an intended trilogy — The Reclaimer Trilogy — and fan anticipation for the return of Master Chief has been building ever since the game was teased during E3 2011. A glossy new sheen, an overhauled engine, and some totally new features all suggest Microsoft’s money is going to good use, but whether it was all worth it will be determined in a little over a week.

Based on what you’ve seen of it so far, does Halo 4 look like Microsoft’s “most expensive” game? What are you most excited to get your hands on: the campaign, multiplayer, Spartan Ops?

Halo 4 releases November 6, 2012 exclusively for the Xbox 360.

Source: Polygon