BEFORE WE BEGIN
This post is going to be a little different than the usual Tin Foil Halo. Considering there has only been one TFH post to date, most people probably don't know what a usual post is even supposed to be. Nonetheless, I wanted to be sure the reader was aware this is not the normal crazy lore theory I plan on writing here.
There is an accompanying post to this one, written by another member of the Podcast Evolved crew, Colin Perkins. He has written the counterpoint to the opinions expressed below, arguing that the next Halo will hit store shelves before the end of 2018. The idea for these posts stemmed from a friendly debate we had one evening regarding the future of the Halo franchise. I hope you enjoy.
Because these posts might sometimes get very specific and it can be hard to remember everything in the Halo universe, I have included links to more information about the people, places, and events in these posts. Blogging Evolved uses Halopedia as our primary source of information.
Additionally, I make an attempt every post to list any Halo media that might get spoiled. I have done my best to include the media that gets spoiled below. While this post will be very spoiler-lite, I always throw this disclaimer in so people are aware of the possibility. If you do not own any of below listed items, each is also a link to purchase via Amazon.
The following article makes reference to and could potentially contain spoilers for Halo: Hunters in the Dark, Halo: Envoy, Halo: Retribution, Halo: Legacy of Onyx, Halo 5: Guardians, and Halo: Escalation.
The sequel to Halo 5: Guardians will not be released until 2019. Evidence to support this conclusion includes the lack of any new Halo news to date, 2018 Halo merchandise focusing on Halo Wars 2 characters and vehicles, the rumors of the TV series shooting at the end of 2018, and the impending re-release of the Master Chief Collection which will probably end up falling towards the end of 2018.
For the counterpoint to this post, see Colin Perkins' rebuttal, Tin Foil Halo #2: Why the Next Halo Game will be Released in 2018.
Today I am writing about the next installment of the Halo franchise, and why it will not be released until the fall of 2019. I will not be covering what the next Halo will be about, though expect to see that post coming in the near future. This post is strictly about when the next Halo first-person shooter will be released and the evidence to support that claim.
Halo is generally a once-every-three-years type of game, at least for the main-line first-person shooter Halos, so 2018 would be the next expected release year for a sequel to 2015's Halo 5: Guardians. Except that isn't the case this time. Halo 6, or whatever it ends up getting called, is definitely not coming out until 2019. This seems like a long break in between games, but remember there was only 2 years between Halo: Reach and Halo 4, so going four years in between would put the series back on track for a once every three years release starting from Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001. So this wouldn't really be all that odd.
But what is it that makes me think a Halo release in 2018 isn't going to happen? Well there are certain things studios want to get set up along-side a game release in order to maximize exposure and to capitalize on the hype, namely advertising and merchandising. We haven't seen any advertising for a new Halo game yet, though with Microsoft and Xbox's attempt to shorten advertising campaigns, this isn't exactly a strike against a 2018 Halo game. Because of this, I'm going to ignore arguing that the lack of advertising is a sign of a 2019 release, as it is too soon to tell either way at the moment. For this article I will keep this portion of my argument to the merchandising side, and just briefly touch on some possible marketing rumors that provide more support to my argument.
Additionally, 343 generally releases extended universe media to support the Halo story going into a new game release. As much as 343 has said the next game will be more Master Chief focused, there still will be supporting media to lead into the next story and give some more details on the upcoming characters. 343 isn't going to send the hardcore fans into the next game completely blind. There will definitely be hints in the lore about what to expect in the next Halo game. While we do have a couple pieces of lore upcoming this summer, I will explain below why these aren't likely going to lead-in to a 2018 Halo release.
There are also the matter of competing products, both from other video game studios, and from 343 Industries themselves. Microsoft doesn't want to release a game that is going to have to compete against a very strong crowd of video games, and more importantly, they don't want to release two similar games around the same time. This is not productive as it just creates competition against themselves, and results overall in fewer games being sold. This is bad planning, and just bad business. Microsoft isn't stupid.
So with all that, lets get down to the details.
THE WAY TO A MAN'S HEART IS THROUGH HIS TOYS
This may not seem like it has an effect on the release of a video game, but scheduling merchandising releases along with a video game's release is extremely important for the game, but more importantly for the merchandise. A new Halo game will always be the attention leader over it's merchandising, so any merchandise being released in concert with a Halo game had better be related to the characters, vehicles, or events of the new game. It wouldn't make sense to release a bunch of Halo Wars 2 toys, or Halo 3-related clothing right when a brand new Halo game hits store shelves. You want new Spartans, new tanks, new fireteams, and new locations.
But this is exactly where we are right now. The 2018 New York Toy Fair recently wrapped up, and some interesting Halo toys were announced. Namely, the new 2018 Mega Construx sets were shown off, and there was something interesting about them. Every one of them, with the exception of the Signature Series UNSC Infinity, is Halo Wars 2 themed. This includes the Banished Marauder Strike, UNSC Blizzard Squad, Foregehog vs. Banished Goliath, and UNSC Frostraven vs. Decimus. All of these are Halo Wars 2 units and vehicles, and while it wouldn't be surprising to see some overlap between Halo Wars and the main Halo games, it is obvious these are all closely tied to Halo Wars 2. And remember, Halo Wars 2 came out over a year ago. This isn't some new game that they are trying to hype up.
Another thing to remember is the wave 2 six inch Mattel figures that were announced over a year ago. I say remember them because THEY STILL AREN'T OUT. At least, not in any significant quantity. Originally these were due to be released summer 2017, which made sense with Halo Wars 2 being released earlier that year and the set featuring Atriox and Jerome-092. But more than a year since announcement, and nine months since their original expected release date, they are still nowhere to be found. Word on the social medias says to expect these out this year, but that means, yet again, that a big merchandising area for Halo, action figures, is filled with Halo Wars 2 and old Halo 5 characters. There still hasn't been word on what exactly caused the delay, but I have my theories. There were rumors of production issues at Mattel, so this could be true, but I suspect this coincided with the next Halo game getting pushed to 2019. I'm guessing management took advantage of the production issues, if there ever were any, and pushed official release until 2018 to fill the toy void that would have been left otherwise. Of course there has not been any official word from Microsoft or 343 one way or the other, but this makes the most sense with the little information we do have.
The only Halo merchandising releasing in 2018 that is even remotely related to the main-line Halo games is the wave 3 twelve inch Mattel figures and the Mega Construx UNSC Infinity, though these are just as much Halo 5 characters and vehicles as they are related to a future Halo game. Sure, I expect to see Blue Team and Cortana in the next Halo game, but releasing these as figures to support an upcoming Halo game seems dubious.
In the end, there is effectively no merchandise announced or rumored that could be tied to a new Halo release. It is always possible there is more incoming we don't know about, but all the products I mentioned aren't even due to be released until the middle of 2018. They will still be new by the fall and winter. If the next Halo is coming out in 2018, the merchandising is completely out of whack.
THE PROOF IS IN THE LORE
In the run up to Halo 5: Guardians, several novels hit store shelves to introduce or expand on new characters, including Olympia Vale in Hunters in the Dark, Holly Tanaka in Escalation, Edward Buck in New Blood, and Jameson Locke in Nightfall. This is two books, a comic series, and a movie released in 2015 in support of Halo 5: Guardians' release. There was also the short story Saint's Testimony which came out in 2015. While this did not introduce any new characters for Halo 5, it did push forward the narrative of AI rights, and their use and misuse in the Halo universe.
So far in 2017 and 2018, we have had a book about Onyx post Halo 5: Guardians (Legacy of Onyx), another about a colony in the Joint Occupation Zone (Envoy), a third that is a follow-up to Last Light (Retribution), and a comic series covering the birth of the Banished (Rise of Atriox). None of these books have any character that could be considered an addition to the next Halo story, or introduce a story element that could conceivably be related to the next Halo game. I wouldn't expect every novel and comic released prior to a new game to be directly involved in building the next story, but I would expect some hint that new story elements are being introduced to help being lore and hype for the dedicated fans.
There are a few books and a comic series in the pipeline for 2018, but from what we know now, they are nothing that would hint at an impending Halo game release. So far we have the sequel to New Blood, Bad Blood, scheduled for a summer release, Silent Storm, also scheduled for the summer, and the Spartan field manual, scheduled for fall 2018. On the comic book front, we have Collateral Damage, due June 6th. This isn't a bad lineup of Halo media, to be honest, but it doesn't seem to push anything forward much with the story.
Bad Blood is supposed to take place after the Halo 5: Guardians story, so I would expect something new to get introduced, but this would be the very first taste of anything potentially new, and it would be coming out only a couple months before a 2018 release. This is just too soon to support a 2018 release.
We know next to nothing about Silent Storm except that it is a "Master Chief story". Of course the luckiest Spartan will be in the next Halo game, but having the Master Chief feature in a Halo novel isn't exactly something revolutionary, despite taking a fifteen year hiatus from novels. I would expect something new in here as well, but again, the summer before an impending release would be too close for the first bits of new information to get released.
The last book isn't a novel, but a reference book. The Spartan Field Manual sounds interesting, despite being in the "Child Military Fiction" genre, but a reference guide for the Spartan-IV program isn't exactly indicative of a new game coming out. I expect to see some good lore tidbits in here, but new Halo story elements post Halo 5: Guardians? Probably not.
The only comic series on the list for 2018 is Collateral Damage, which is another entry into the lore that is everyone's favorite John-117 and Blue Team focused. While all the details regarding when in the universe this story will take place is still unknown, we do know that it will occur right after the Fall of Reach comic series from several years ago. Of course right after the end of Fall of Reach, Master Chief ends up on Installation 04 with the Pillar of Autumn, so right now the community is assuming it is actually going to occur after the Fall of Reach: Covenant portion of that series, but we still aren't exactly sure when the story will take place. Regardless, we do know it won't take place after the events of Halo 5: Guardians, so any chance of pushing that story forward are pretty much nil.
WHAT WE DON'T KNOW...
Then there are the things we don't know about that could change my entire argument. Or solidify it even more. The one known unknown I am aware of is the Halo TV series, which was announced in 2013 and has been annually confirmed to still be in progress. Recently the word got out again that the TV series is still in development, that it is now a miniseries, and even more than that, there are rumors that filming could start by the end of the year. A fall to winter 2018 filming schedule would mean broadcast date is conceivably in the middle 2019 timeframe. But what does that mean for the next Halo game? Maybe nothing, but more than likely this will get tied into the next Halo release, either to lead into the next story, or supplement it. In either situation this would mean a 2018 release is all but out of the question. Of course it is possible that these two projects are unrelated lore-wise, but that is very unlikely given 343's record of previous live-action releases. The last option would be a 2018 game leading into the TV series, but based on how game marketing usually works, and the relationship game sales have on live-action series and vice versa, this is probably the least likely scenario of the three.
IT'S MASTER CHIEF VERSUS MASTER CHIEF
The last argument I will make against a 2018 release for the next Halo game has to do with competition. I could argue that the fall 2018 competition is very strong this year, and Microsoft doesn't want to go head-to-head with the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2, but I won't. Every year has big games being released, and while we don't know what 2019 has in store for us yet, I can bet it will be another round of huge hits. This would be an argument for moving Halo's release to another time of the year, but that is all speculative, and only supports a 2019 release date anyway.
What I will argue is that 343 is working on rebuilding the Master Chief Collection, and based on the tentative schedule we do know, it would make sense to expect that Microsoft will shoot for another soft release of MCC sometime towards the end of 2018. While MCC has been out for over three years now, 343 has made it clear that they are going ahead with making major updates to the system in order to create a stable MCC that can be played for years to come. Why put so much effort, time, and money into a project and not re-release it, or at least get the marketing team in gear to push game sales back up for a bit? As much as 343 is hoping to regain some trust from the community at large, they aren't going to dedicate an entire team of developers without making an attempt to recoup some of those costs. I strongly suspect to see a fairly significant re-release of the Master Chief Collection towards the end of 2018, and putting up a new Halo game at the same time will only hurt the sales of both games.
So what does that mean for the next Halo game? We know it is in development, and at this point, has been in development for a while now. Based on the upcoming 2018 merchandising, I see no evidence of a new Halo game incoming. If you include the novels, comics, and TV series, the evidence points even more strongly to a 2019 release. Finally, and most importantly, the Master Chief Collection is likely going to have another release in some form, and based on what we know right now about the flighting program, MCC is targeted for an end of 2018 re-release. The next Halo is definitely not going to be released until 2019. It is painfully obvious.
All that being said, I wouldn't rule out a spring or summer release for the next Halo FPS. The game industry is changing, and it would make sense for Halo to try and capitalize on a fairly open part of the calendar, rather than directly compete with every other big first-person shooter of the year. That is still 2019, but it wouldn't be an entire year later than expected, and would fit with the rumors of the upcoming TV series. It would also allow for the 2018 novels and comics to build some hype for a MCC re-release as two of them are Master Chief focused. A successful re-release of MCC would then build some more hype for a 2019 TV series, which would build even further for a new Halo release next year.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is a counter-argument to this post arguing why 2018 will be the year of the next Halo, written by Colin Perkins. I urge you to read his post as well and decide who makes the better argument. We will find out within the next couple months whether I am right, or he is. I suspect I am, but I've been surprised before.
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