Examples of Damage Control in Gaming: A “Secret” Anniversary

dcgamingbannerMicrosoft desperately tried to clog some leaks a couple of weeks ago after someone divulged a bunch of their previously-secret plans on NeoGAF. Among them were release windows for upcoming Xbox One software, news about titles Microsoft hadn’t announced yet, and possible hardware SKUs. You could imagine a number of execs at the company were figuratively (or perhaps literally) pulling their hair out at the info leaking. Though any anonymous person could hop on a popular message board and spill “information” about a company’s secrets, these were verified when The Verge confirmed a few of them with a trusted source. These were legitimate.

Perhaps the most-discussed piece of info among them pertained to Halo 2: Anniversary was coming to Xbox One later this year. The focus of each discussion isn’t on the product itself, although that’s part of it, but because it means any chances of that new Halo game teased at E3 2013 (which will probably be called Halo 5 because why not?) releasing this fall are out the window. Not that it was a realistic scenario to begin with. Halo 4 released for Xbox 360 in November 2012, and there was no chance of the team at 343 Industries having a new game ready in two years for a new generation console, unless the results felt rushed and unfinished. A remake of Halo 2 for the tenth anniversary will keep fans occupied until then.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Microsoft, of course, won’t confirm any of the rumors, despite their plausibility. Like any company worth their salt, they’re maintaining a stern “no comment” stance. 343i is busy, and Bungie is working with Activision on Destiny, meaning the remake would likely be developed by Saber Interactive again. They did a good job with the Anniversary edition of the first game on 360, and added a bunch of nifty features not present in the original Xbox version that fans liked. HD remasters are easy money for video game publishers, and Microsoft certainly doesn’t intend to leave that on the table.

News of Halo 2: Anniversary elevated to “badly kept secret” level when protagonist Master Chief’s voice actor, Steve Downes, made a few interesting comments. He confirmed in an interview with Game Zone that the aforementioned Anniversary is coming later this year, and that Halo 5 isn’t. The legitimacy of the aforementioned rumors above strengthened even further. Apparently Downes thought this news was already known, so this is a slip of the tongue.

Following this, something…interesting happened. Microsoft contacted Game Zone and had them alter the story, leading to Downes recanting that portion of the interview. Someone should tell them that communication doesn’t work that way. Apparently Microsoft still hasn’t fixed the mind-boggling messaging issues they’ve had in the last year, as contacting Game Zone about the matter only further confirmed that rumor. We’re now beyond the “badly kept secret” territory. The question now isn’t whether it will happen, but when Microsoft will reveal it. HD remasters aren’t the kind of products that need to be hyped for months on end (unless your name is “Square Enix”), so they’ll likely reveal it around E3 this year, if not a little before then.

Halo 2 for Xbox

The confirmation that Halo 2: Anniversary exists begs several questions about what alterations could be made. Anyone who finished the original, or is aware of its “ending,” might wonder how they’re going to handle it this time around. It ends with a notorious cliffhanger, making the player feel like they’ve only played through half of the game. Movies and books can get away with cliffhangers like that if they have an adequate amount of exposition, but that’s considerably more difficult for video games — especially one with a short 8-10 hour campaign. It’s possible the developers may add something to it to throw dedicated fans for a loop, but don’t expect anything significant.

Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if Microsoft confirms a bunch of those rumors, in addition to this one. There’s no way they aren’t disappointed about current Xbox One sales in America, so maybe this will force their hand.

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