While there are many similarities between the big three console manufacturers currently dominating the market, Microsoft frequently leads the pack in regards to providing entertainment content outside of gaming. Over the course of the Xbox 360’s life cycle, they exhibited this with their Halo Waypoint app and seem intent on building upon that with their newly-announced Halo Channel.
Like Halo Waypoint before it, Halo Channel will act as gamers’ hub to anything and everything Halo-related. Developed by 343 Industries, this new platform is described as “an all-new interactive digital network that provides unprecedented, personalized access to the Halo Universe” and is planned to launch on Xbox One, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices on November 11, 2014.
Considering the strong footing that Twitch has achieved in the gaming broadcast world, it’s no surprise to hear that a large part of Halo Channel will be about making the process of broadcasting and watching others an easier, more seamless experience. From live updating of in-game information and stats while watching important events like eSports matches to accessing news as it breaks, this could become a one-stop-shop for Halo fans.
The reach of this service doesn’t simply encompass that of broadcasting. Players will be able to transition between gameplay and additional content easier, should it be the existing Forward Unto Dawn or upcoming Halo: Nightfall series. Wondering what weapons are being used in a given scene or what locale the caharacters are traversing? Players will be able to jump into the Halo Encyclopedia to read up on any lore that might be of interest to them.
There will also be a social aspect to Microsoft and 343 Industries’ new service. Should players wish, they will be able to easily share content from Halo Channel to their social media platforms. If this isn’t your thing though, maybe exclusive in-game rewards are. As players consume media throughout the service, they will be able to unlock content that will be usable in Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo 5: Guardians.
Although it’s hard to speak to the functionality of the service until it launches in November, it’s hard to deny the fact that it sports quite a good-looking UI. From the clean Encyclopedia entries to the way stats are arrayed while viewing live broadcasts, it may not stand as an essential part of the Halo experience, but for those that are engrossed in the series it could very well provide new ways to interact with the content that they love.
Add to all this the fact that this will be a shared experience across the Xbox One and Windows 8.1 devices and it’s looking like Microsoft is definitely putting a great amount of stock in their entertainment initiative and interest in releasing TV content. If this is a sign of things to come, Microsoft could very well manage to carve out a significant niche for themselves in the midst of the other consoles on the market.
Do you think that Microsoft is heading down the right path in their quest to pair gaming with other mediums like TV? Will you be making use of Halo Channel?
Halo Channel is planned to launch on November 11, 2014 for Xbox One, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices.
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