Ever since Microsoft showed off its Xbox wares at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this past May, there’s been concern about the availability of Bungie Studios’ long-sought-after 3D action game Halo on platforms other than the Xbox. Recently Bungie’s resident “Community Guy” Matt Soell tried to put some of that concern to rest.
At the E3 show, Microsoft proudly showed off mock boxes of its launch line for the Xbox video game console. Among the titles on display was Halo, and on the packaging were the words “Xbox Exclusive.” Since then, rumors have spread far and wide that Halo would never come to Windows and Mac OS platforms and that users would have to buy a Microsoft Xbox console if they ever hoped to play the game. Despite no specific confirmation of this by Bungie, the rumor was a particularly bitter moment for Mac fans. As an independent developer and publisher, Bungie was a stalwart supporter of the Mac platform and had often been lauded for its platform-independent development efforts. Before its partnership with Microsoft took center stage in the spring of 2000, Bungie had long indicated that Halo would be coming to the Mac.
Halo’s position as a showcase title for Microsoft’s Xbox is indisputable, as is its Xbox exclusivity when the console launches next week: People who buy the Microsoft Xbox will get first crack at playing the game, since it’s currently available for no other system. Halo has been rebuilt from the ground up to take advantage of Xbox’s unique architecture, and even Soell doesn’t dispute that Mac and Windows compatibility will be a long row to hoe.
The word “exclusive” carries a different connotation in the bombastic and often contradictory marketing language of video and computer games, however — often times it can mean a time-specific arrangement, or exclusivity to video game consoles rather than home computers. There have been plenty of cases in the past where an “exclusive” title for one video game console appears later on the PC, is tweaked as a “special edition” for another system, or is later repurposed for other video game systems that weren’t available when the game was originally released.
To help put rumors to rest, Soell asserted that Bungie is still hoping to do Mac and PC versions of Halo, in a post recently made to the halo.bungie.org discussion forum entitled Different thread, same story. Soell’s patience was clearly wearing thin as he sought to quell the latest round of rumors that Halo was, indeed, not coming to Mac OS or Windows at all.
Soell feels that a recent post of his was taken out of context. In the post, Soell suggested that Jason Jones — Halo’s designer — “was still unsure” about how to handle the PC (and presumably the Mac) version of the game.
“I will try to say this again a little more clearly so that no one misunderstands,” said Soell. “We still plan to do a Mac and PC version of Halo, but there are a lot of questions that must be answered before we can make the Mac/PC versions happen.”
Soell likened these issues to the logistics involved in traveling to a friend’s house. Although on the surface it seems simple to travel from point a to point b, said Soell, the trip is actually comprised of many smaller decisions that affect the overall outcome — “You could take the highway, but it’s rush hour; maybe it would be better to take side streets? Do you have enough gas for the trip or do you need to make a side trip to a gas station?”
Ultimately, however, asserted Soell, these decisions don’t affect the destination — just the journey to get there. Soell said that Jason Jones and Bungie founder Alex Seropian “don’t have answers to all the questions yet, and they don’t want to say anything until all the ducks are in a row, but they know what they have to do.”
So, Halo fans — file this under “good news.” Undoubtedly we’ll get more specific information as Soell, Jones, Seropian and the rest of the Bungie team are able to provide them.