Microsoft Game Studios today announced development of Mac and PC versions of Bungie’s hit Xbox game “Halo: Combat Evolved.” This news looks to make good on repeated promises offered by Microsoft and Bungie that the game will indeed be made available on the Mac.
A sci-fi-based first person shooter, Halo was one of the crown jewels of Microsoft’s Xbox video game console when the system hit the market last year. Players take action on a mysterious alien ringworld to do battle with a brutal alien collective known as The Covenant as they vie for control of the planet in search of artifacts that will help them win an interstellar conflict. In addition to an expansive single-player game, Halo is chock-full of multiplayer fun as well, with varied game types to keep players interested during hours of play.
Halo’s history long predates the Xbox, however — this news culminates an odyssey that first began several years ago when Microsoft’s Bungie Studios was still an independent company. Bungie — initially a Mac-only developer — first unveiled plans to create Halo with support both Mac and Windows users, as it had with previous game franchises like Myth and Marathon. In the spring of 2000, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft, and plans were announced thereafter to publish Halo for Xbox. Microsoft’s packaging for Halo indicated the game would be an Xbox exclusive — at least for game consoles. Some gamers and game news sites extrapolated that Halo would not, then, be made for Mac or Windows, a misconception that’s finally been shattered.
Microsoft has struck development and publishing arrangements with Gearbox Studios to bring the game to Windows, while Destineer — the company behind other recent Microsoft Mac game releases like Age of Empires II: Gold Edition and Links Championship Edition — will create and publish the Mac version (under its Bold label, an imprint wholly dedicated to Mac games). Both versions are expected to ship in 2003.
Destineer has contracted well-known Macintosh game conversion company Westlake Interactive to do the Mac conversion. Westlake, which works extensively with other Mac game publishers like Aspyr Media and MacSoft, previously collaborated with Destineer to publish Age of Empires II for the Mac last year. The game was released on time, as promised, late in October of 2001. Microsoft said that the Mac version’s development would occur simultaneously with the Windows version’s development.
“Halo: Combat Evolved” was the fastest million-unit seller ever for any next-gen console when it first appeared last year, according to market tracking service NPDFunworld SM. Microsoft reported that six copies of the game were sold every minute of every day between November 15, 2001 and April 8, 2002. The innovative action title remains a strong draw from new Xbox console buyers. (For more on Halo’s background, read MacGamer’s Halo: I told you so.)
“Our goal is for Mac and Windows users to battle each other on foot, in vehicles, and in the air next summer when the best first-person shooter ever created comes to both Macintosh and Windows,” said Destineer president Peter Tamte.
The companies expect to provide more details regarding game content, features and enhancements at a later date, but in an interview with MacCentral, Destineer president Peter Tamte provided some color about development plans. Halo will definitely be made native for Mac OS X, and Destineer plans to make a decision on whether it’ll be able to support Mac OS 9 further into development. Tamte described the game’s expected system requirements as “significant,” but couldn’t offer any specific detail.
Tamte himself worked at Bungie prior to the company’s acquisition by Microsoft, and left to found Destineer. With past stints at Apple and as founder of Mac game publisher MacSoft, he’s very pleased with this announcement. Past Macworld Expo attendees may remember a New York keynote event when Microsoft’s own games Vice President Ed Fries took the stage. The significance of this moment isn’t lost on Tamte.
“Microsoft is fulfilling a promise,” Tamte told MacCentral. “This is further evidence that Microsoft wants to see their best games come to the Mac.”