(Podcast Evolved and Blogging Evolved use Halopedia as our primary source of information)
The upcoming update for the Master Chief Collection will not only bring the collection to the PC, but also feature an “anniversary” edition of Halo 3 in order to appease fans and provide a draw for PC gamers to buy the game. A PC release of the game, while welcome, is not by itself enough reason to push sales of MCC on PC, and a new addition is needed to draw hype and desire. Evidence in support of this claim is the renewed focus on everything Halo 3, from upcoming and future Halo Championship Series and Halo Grassroots tournaments, to several new Mega Construx sets that are all Halo 3-based.
There are several indications that point to a big announcement regarding not just the Master Chief Collection, but Halo 3 in particular. There is ample evidence that Halo 3 is the marketing focus for at least the first half of 2019, and the signs point to a welcome addition to the Master Chief Collection in the form of Halo 3 Anniversary. I will cover those below.
If somehow you have completely missed the news that 343 Industries has been working to fix and update the Master Chief Collection, the game now works far better and is being continually updated as we speak. For months now, 343 has provided regular announcements on the continuing work on MCC, providing fans with not just news on the latest bug fixes, but the team’s hopes and dreams for the future of the game. Of those, adding Halo: Reach, Halo 3: ODST Firefight, and making it available for PC have been specifically listed as desires for future updates of the game. With Halo Infinite all but confirmed for a 2020 release and slated to come out on PC along with Xbox, this is the perfect time to make MCC available on PC, as well as give it a bit of a marketing boost.
BIG NEWS AHEAD
We have been told that a big announcement (or two) regarding MCC is coming in the next couple weeks. While we won’t know for sure what it is until it is announced, multiple sources have suggested that we are very close to seeing MCC released for PC. Considering that this has been a desire of the team for a while, and the next game, Halo Infinite, is known to be coming to PC as well as Xbox, it is a smart update to the game, and will draw a larger crowd into the Halo universe generally and Halo Infinite specifically. If the Master Chief Collection doesn’t come to PC at this point, the entire community will be incredibly disappointed and probably blame 343 for not doing something they never said they were doing in the first place. That’s fandom for you.
BIGGER THAN ANYONE SUSPECTS
Announcing that MCC is coming to PC will not be the only news, however. Sure, the community will be thrilled that they can finally play the old first-person shooter Halo games on PC, something they haven’t been able to do since Halo 2 Vista (Remember Windows Vista?), but why would they want to buy a four year-old game that is just a compilation of a six year-old game, a nine year-old game, an eleven year-old game, a fourteen year-old game, and a seventeen year-old game? Because it is Halo? That will get some people on-board. Because it is cheap? It is still currently $30 and I don’t imagine that will go down significantly, if at all. Because it is there? It is almost guaranteed that MCC will come out on the Windows Store, and while I don’t think the store is nearly as terrible as everyone else does, it is definitely not going to get the same browsing traffic as it would on Steam. So what then will draw the news outlets to write about it, spur a new set of YouTube videos, entice streamers to play it, and boost Halo into the primary gaming news cycle that will get gamers to start talking about it again?
BUT NOT WHAT ANYONE EXPECTS
What will get people talking is a new addition to the Master Chief Collection. It will have to be something big too, because adding minor features to one of the games already in the collection won’t draw eyeballs. That only leaves a couple options. Halo: Reach has been listed as a desired addition by 343 for a while now, but it isn’t a Master Chief game, so that doesn’t seem to be the best fit. Halo 5 is the newest Halo FPS, but it doesn’t have the same love in the community as the other games do because of the campaign and divisive multiplayer (even though it is absolutely the best of any Halo game). So what could 343 add to MCC that is a Master Chief game, loved by the community, and would be a fairly easy addition without taxing the development team?
THE FIGHT ISN’T FINISHED
Doing an anniversary edition of Halo 3 would absolutely be the best choice for a new addition to MCC. Not only would it be completely unexpected and draw a ton of hype based on shock alone, it was also the pinnacle of Halo popularity and probably the bet known story of all the Halo games. It is also a Master Chief game, and aside from MCC being a collection of Master Chief games, Halo Infinite is also known to be a Master Chief-focused story. Using MCC as a first step into the hype train that is definitely coming soon for Infinite makes the most sense if they make additions to the game that focus on the Master Chief stories, particularly the original trilogy.
Halo 3 Anniversary would also be the easiest from a manpower standpoint. The Master Chief Collection has already been updated to 4K HDR 60 frames-per-second across the board, so the only thing an anniversary edition would need is some sexy Blur cutscenes. This work would be done by Blur Studio, of course, so the 343 development team would only need to do relatively minor work to incorporate the cutscenes into MCC. I’m not saying it would be no work, but it should be a lot less than trying to add another game into the collection, and would make the game more popular than adding Halo: Reach or Halo 5.
This is all well and good, but I wasn’t spurred to write this article because 343 SHOULD make a Halo 3 Anniversary even though they should, or because I WANT Halo 3 Anniversary even though I really want it. I was spurred because there is a lot of good evidence that 343 WILL add Halo 3 Anniversary to MCC, and that announcement is coming in a week or two.
It was announced was year that the Halo Championship Series would be winding down their official Halo 5 tournaments in favor of supporting other community-run tournaments through the Halo Grassroots program. The largest upcoming one, the Gamers for Giving Tournament, is a Halo 3 tournament due to the popularity of the game. This is a huge gaming tournament featuring Counterstrike, Overwatch, Fortnite, and… Halo 3. Yeah, Halo 5 is over three years old. Yeah, Halo 3 is so hot right now. But there is absolutely a reason 343 chose to switch to Halo 3 rather than another Halo game.
Not long after, it was announced that HCS wasn’t actually going away, but only changing gears. It turns out that there will be more HCS tournaments in 2019, the first of which being the HCS Invitational at South by Southwest, another Halo 3 tournament. They even went so far as to say that Halo 3 would be the focus of HCS for the entirety of 2019, so Halo 3 will remain in the spotlight on the esports side at least throughout 2019 and possibly until Infinite launches. That is quite a bit of support for a game that isn’t getting any additional updates.
The focus on Halo 3 esports over Halo 5 or any other Halo game got my attention that there is a concerted effort on 343’s part to keep the game in the minds of gamers, but it was the leaked Halo merchandise for 2019 that really got me thinking that there was more to the story than just nostalgia for Halo 3. I’ll briefly go through what new merchandise has either already been released or is upcoming in 2019, and I think it will be clear that something else Halo 3 related is coming.
I have used current or upcoming Halo merchandise as an argument for 343’s intention before. About a year ago, Colin Perkins and I argued about whether Halo 6 would be released in 2018 or 2019. While it turned out we were both wrong (probably), part of what convinced me that Halo 6 wasn’t coming in 2018 was the utter lack of merchandise that was Halo 6 themed. Most new Mattel figures and Mega Construx were focused around Halo Wars 2, a game that had already been out a year at that point, and there was no sign of anything new that wasn’t tied to something already released.
In 2019, we are in the opposite scenario with Halo 3. There are several items coming out that are specific to Halo 3, even though the game will be twelve years-old this year. This points to a marketing focus on the game, and 343 wouldn’t do that unless they had something new to offer. While all have so far been Mega Construx sets, there are now enough of them to tell me it isn’t just a fluke.
The first are the Mega Construx blind bags. If you don’t know what those are, they are small bags containing a random Halo figure that are released in sets of six to eight. Late last year, the Battle for the Ark series came out, featuring characters from Halo Wars 2, which takes place on the Ark. No big deal. The new set for 2019 is called A New Dawn, which is Halo 3-themed, and features a miniature model of the Forward unto Dawn. Not exactly a big deal, since several series come out every year, but interesting.
The next Mega set that was announced is called Warthog Run, themed around the Warthog run at the end of Halo 3 and featuring Master Chief and the Arbiter. More interesting news, and welcome, but is that all I have? Negative Infinity! There is also a new Hornet Mega set being released and a rocket Mongoose set coming out, all Halo 3 themed. That’s four brand new Mega sets, all coming out this year, all Halo 3 themed. Sure, there are some Halo Wars 2 sets coming out too, but it is only a two year-old game and those sets have been in the pipeline for a while. The last Halo 5-themed set came out last year, and no more appear to be scheduled. The only set that could be Halo 5 themed is the gigantic UNSC Infinity set, though that could very well be the first Halo Infinite set we are seeing, as it was originally spotted over a year ago at the New York Toy Fair 2018, but only got a real page on Amazon and release date in January.
So while we don’t have any direct evidence that Halo 3 Anniversary is coming, there is a lot of evidence that 343 is putting their focus on Halo 3 for 2019 in the push prior to Halo Infinite’s release in 2020. We are almost certain at this point that the Master Chief Collection is coming to PC very soon, and the only way that is going to sell well is if something new is added to MCC. Halo: CE and Halo 2 already got their anniversary editions, and while fans have lost hope that Halo 3 will get the same treatment, I strongly suspect that 343 has something else up their sleeves in the form of Halo 3 Anniversary. Not only would it be happily welcomed by Halo fans, but it will draw the crowds in the form of new PC players and media attention. There is even evidence that 343 is beginning a push to promote Halo 3 again, in the form of several new Mega Construx sets and figures that are all Halo 3-themed. While the evidence is all circumstantial, it all points to Halo 3 being the focus of the Microsoft and 343 marketing machine in 2019, and that would only be done if they were trying to sell something. Halo 3 Anniversary is almost upon us, and no one even suspects it (except me, and now you, loyal reader).
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