Forza Horizon 5 recently became the biggest release ever for an Xbox Game Studios title, garnering over 4.5 million players right after launch. The open-world racer has given Xbox a ton of momentum this holiday season, but now the other half of the one-two first-party punch falls to the much-anticipated Halo Infinite, launching December 8th. The game had originally been planned as an Xbox Series X/S launch title for last year, but it was pushed back for extra polish.
As a day one Xbox Game Pass release, the newest Halo immediately ups the value proposition for the subscription service, especially as new Xbox owners come into the ecosystem or decide to subscribe to Game Pass for the first time. Given that the original Halo is now two decades old, the developers at 343 Industries have an opportunity to both gain back lapsed Halo fans and to introduce Master Chief to new players who may have been too young to enjoy the earlier entries in the franchise.
For a special property like Halo, Microsoft has leaned on the expertise of ad agency 215 McCann to craft a campaign that is integrated with the overall worldbuilding effort of the Halo universe. A series of ads in the “Become” campaign are designed as a spiritual follow-up of sorts to the emotional “Believe” campaign back in 2006. The spots highlight UNSC Archives to show how the events taking place in Halo Infinite were shaped by the sacrifices of many others besides Master Chief. The idea is that anyone can become a hero. The campaign is deliberately cinematic in nature to fit within the ever-growing Halo entertainment sphere that now includes a Paramount+ TV show in 2022.
The Halo franchise has generated more than $6 billion in worldwide product sales (including books and merchandise), and the games themselves have sold more than 81 million copies to date. The challenge for Microsoft now is to reenergize its base, as it’s been six years since Halo 5 released, and according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, fanship has been slowly eroding, even among Xbox fans. The initial Halo Infinite gameplay reveal over the summer was seen as lackluster, but the good news is that players’ reception to a preview of the free-to-play multiplayer mode for Infinite has been largely positive.
As the world desperately looks to a post-pandemic era, Halo Infinite’s messaging could resonate. “For longtime Halo fans, I hope this captures some of the magic of 10 years ago when video games were larger than life and reinvigorates the excitement from a time when people would line up outside retail stores for midnight releases,” Jonathan Segall, senior manager, Xbox global marketing communications, told Adweek.