Halo Online For Russian Release
MARCH 28, 2015 • Later this spring Microsoft Corp. is holding a closed beta for a free-to-play multiplayer online game on the PC in Russia called Halo Online. The title is based on the Halo 3 engine and is set directly after the events in that game. Most of the action takes place on a space station and will include existing maps as well as new ones – some of them with unique Russian themes. Halo Online is a collaboration between Saber Interactive (Halo: The Master Chief Collection) and Moscow-based Innova Systems, which manages MMOs in the country such as NCsoft’s Aion and Lineage II. Halo Online will be available through Innova’s 4game platform. No official launch date has been announced. Microsoft is treating the Russian release as a learning experiment with no plans to bring this iteration of the Halo franchise to Western markets, or to the Xbox One.
Impact: The Russian market has some very unique attributes and was the subject of a major DFC market report. World of Tanks was such a huge success for Wargaming.net that the company was able to grow to over 3,000 employees. It is clear that Russia has a core PC game audience that is well suited to an F2P shooter such as Halo Online. The tricky part of this endeavor is that at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, Russia is an odd market in which to be launching a major new online business. Western economic sanctions tied to the Ukraine conflict are raising havoc with exchange rates and the Russian government could very easily make it difficult to get revenue earned out of the country. On another level, the Halo 3 engine lacks the chops to deliver the level of graphic quality most Western core gamers would demand yet will probably have no problem being run on a wide selection of the PCs available in Russia. Our question is whether this is an experiment geared toward emerging markets, or a broader interest in developing a PC component of the franchise that can exist between major version numbers of the console experience. Halo Online lacks campaigns so the project is reminiscent of Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament without the retail MSRP. Much depends on how crisp the gameplay is during multiplayer matches, which itself is tied to broadband speeds available and how many servers Innova seeds in different geographic areas. How Halo Online is monetized will also be a critical issue, but as no details have been disclosed it is difficult to weigh what the service’s chances are for success. Overall we imagine that this was in the works for some time but has the unfortunate timing that it is coming to fruition under less than ideal circumstances.