It takes a special video game to stay relevant for a matter of decades — this year Nintendo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., but that series is very much an exception rather than the rule. However, Xbox head Phil Spencer has stated that he believes Halo can enjoy just as much success.
Speaking to GameSpot, Spencer suggested that Halo is “a franchise and an IP I expect to be around 20 years from now”. He went on to compare Microsoft’s flagship FPS series to enduring pop culture phenoms like Spider-Man and Star Wars.
Spencer’s comments were made to support the idea that the series shouldn’t be annualized, a strategy adopted by many other mainstream FPS franchises. “I think that the franchise then needs to be managed in a way that doesn’t burn it out,” he said.
The crux of Spencer’s argument is that less frequent releases will allow Halo to continue as a franchise longer than its biggest competitors, but it remains to be seen whether this only pertains to the mainline series. While the fifth Halo game proper will release this year, the series has seen its fair share of spin-offs.
That tradition will continue with the release of Halo Wars 2 next year — meaning that, in effect, Halo will be annualized until at least 2017. However, Spencer’s comments perhaps indicate that the next instalment in the franchise as a whole beyond the RTS spin-off won’t release until at least 2018.
In the early days of the Xbox 360, it seemed that Gears of War was being groomed as a third-person alternative to Halo that would release in the franchise’s off-years. Now that Gears is being handled exclusively by The Coalition, it seems that might be the plan once again.
Gears of War 4 is set to release in 2016, so it would make sense for numbered instalments of Halo and Gears to alternate from that point. This would technically mean that Halo isn’t annualized — even if spin-offs like Halo Wars continue to be released.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not Halo will last another twenty years, as Spencer predicts. While the franchise does have its fair share of recognizable characters — aided by Microsoft’s use of Cortana in Windows 10 — it’s difficult to say just how much mainstream popularity the series has managed to amass.
Sales figures for the games have always been good, but the fact that the proposed movie adaptation never got off the ground might suggest that its success is limited to the video game sphere. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but Halo won’t be the next Star Wars until it has true crossover appeal.
Halo 5: Guardians will release for Xbox One on October 27.