A lot of sites dismissed the rumor that the next Bungie project is going to be a Halo game that isn’t Halo 3, but does exist in the Halo universe as more of a prequel. I know what you are thinking: sequels suck, but prequels are worse, and I agree. This project is being called Forerunner, a reference to the race of beings that created the Halo rings in the first place. Most sites are calling this pure rumor or speculation.
Now, being that I am The Mole and I love to banter about such rumors I have to put my two cents in on what is likely to happen. Okay, here goes:
The next game will be online. MMOFPS if you want to call it that. Let’s just call it Halo Online. Okay, so Halo Online will be all about being a huge multiplayer battleground. The battle will probably be for Earth and the player can pick a side and battle in huge battles — 100+ people trying to take over a base and 100+ people trying to hold the base. Instead of getting tons of XP to level a character as you would in a MMORPG, players will need to carry out missions to get better equipment, tanks, and just more bases.
The game will probably launch this fall, let’s say around November or at the very least will be announced at E3. Halo Online will be as big as World of Warcraft and will be Microsoft’s first “billion dollar game.” Don’t be surprised if this game gets 10 million subscribers paying $10-15 a month within the first three years. That would be over a billion dollars a year in revenue.
I know this all sounds a bit crazy, but here is the reasoning. Bungie originally promised huge multiplayer battles and epic battles for earth in Halo 2. That didn’t happen, but I’m sure Bungie tried to make it happen. At the same time, World of Warcraft has been making huge waves in the gaming world with its 6 million subscribers worldwide paying $15 a month just to play. A couple years ago those kinds of numbers would have been seen as pure insanity, but Blizzard’s near-perfect execution of the MMORPG genre in World of Warcraft made 6 million subscribers a reality.
Bungie is one of the few studios who could make the same thing happen to the MMOFPS on a console. After all, Sony and Nintendo pretty much wrote off online console gaming before Halo 2 came out and launched online console gaming into a viable business. Now even Sony is raving about how the PS3 games are going to be “Live” and online (just like Xbox games have been for the last couple years).
In short, Halo Online is just too big of an opportunity for Microsoft to pass up. It’s a billion dollar idea that if they don’t do they would be completely foolish. The Halo fan base would go crazy for it and it would be the biggest game of the next generation. If Bungie and Microsoft make Halo Online happen, the Xbox 360 would end the next-generation console war. Period. Not only that, but a version of Halo Online playable on Windows Vista would ensure that gamers who don’t have an Xbox 360 would still upgrade to Vista. It’s a win for Microsoft either way.