Microsoft: We Are Doing What We Are Not Doing

...and what they are not doing is investing in original intellectual properties.

Actually I think that entire phrase is a contradiction in terms, at least in terms of how Microsoft can invest in something. Invest, in their case, means buy, and once something has proven itself worth buying it's no longer original.

Take a look at Halo. Microsoft bought Bungie in 2000. Bungie developed three Halo games and Microsoft published them. Now Bungie has been spun off, and Microsoft kept Halo.

Is Halo an "original" intellectual property now? Microsoft no longer has an "investment" in Bungie, which is going to do one more Halo game (ODST) and then move on to other things. Knowing Bungie, those "other things" are probably underway as we speak, and the latest podcast mentions things that may not be mentioned. These unmentionables are (drumroll please) original intellectual properties that Microsoft has not invested in, and presumably did not want to invest in. Instead, they kept Halo.

UPDATE: Microsoft is reorganizing Rare now, too. Rare has created aan "original IP" for Microsoft-- namely, Viva Pinata. PDZ was a sequel, but it doesn't look like it's getting another sequel anytime soon.

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Well, I'd argue that Halo itself was not all that original to begin with taking Sci-Fi concepts heavily from other works such as "Ringworld", "Aliens" and several others. Bungie just combined them in a way that was entertaining enough to keep fans coming back for more. I mean, how original is a story of a genetically enhanced and armored super soldier who saves the world/solar system/galaxy? The question now is, can/will Microsoft continue with the idea and if so will those future titles be of the same or of a better caliber than the original? Then next question becomes, how long will it be before the series decays to the point of collapse and implodes under its own weight in Microsoft's relentless pursuit of the almighty dollar?

Their decision to stick with 'what works' in this, or any economic climate is not all that surprising. This was obviously a business decision, not a creative one.

Blackstar, I would argue that it's the areas of the plot not involving MC, or even the UNSC/humanity as a whole that are the most engaging. The story of MB is, I think, one of the most brilliant parts of the haloverse, and I was really eating up the covie stuff in H2. Halo is guilty of plenty of sci-fi clichés, but it puts them together in a way that is nothing short of brilliant and adds plenty of other strokes of genius. It may be the community that keeps me coming back to halo, but it was the plot that got me into it, and it engages me thoroughly to this day.

And Narcogen, to be fair, do we know that MS isn't/hasn't invested in these unmentionables? I agree that they very probably have not, I wouldn't rule it out, and I definitely wouldn't rule out future MS-Bungie involvement even if it doesn't exist beyond Halo at this stage.

[quote=elpolloguapo]The story of MB is, I think, one of the most brilliant parts of the haloverse, and I was really eating up the covie stuff in H2. Halo is guilty of plenty of sci-fi clichés, but it puts them together in a way that is nothing short of brilliant and adds plenty of other strokes of genius.[/quote]

Can you site some examples of this for me? Are you referring to just the games, or all the Halo media including the books, graphic novels and comics as well? I can't say it bodes well for a story or concept who's fan base thinks the most interesting and brilliant parts have nothing to do with the main character.

[quote=blackstar]Well, I'd argue that Halo itself was not all that original to begin with taking Sci-Fi concepts heavily from other works such as "Ringworld", "Aliens" and several others. Bungie just combined them in a way that was entertaining enough to keep fans coming back for more. I mean, how original is a story of a genetically enhanced and armored super soldier who saves the world/solar system/galaxy? The question now is, can/will Microsoft continue with the idea and if so will those future titles be of the same or of a better caliber than the original? Then next question becomes, how long will it be before the series decays to the point of collapse and implodes under its own weight in Microsoft's relentless pursuit of the almighty dollar?

Their decision to stick with 'what works' in this, or any economic climate is not all that surprising. This was obviously a business decision, not a creative one.[/quote]

We have to be careful about the context in which we use the word "original", which is why I mentioned the "nothing new under the sun" cliche. There's a difference between saying Halo is original in the sense of "never been done before" and the other, commercial sense, which is more specific, which means that "there has never been a specific instance of this intellectual property before".

In the former sense, yes, Halo is not original, because it is largely derivative of other, earlier, similar works.

In the second sense, Halo is original because it was the first instance of a game based on that particular fictional framework, regardless of earlier previous works. In that second sense Halo 2 and Halo 3 are not original because they are sequels.

My point was drawn mostly on the word "original" in the second sense, which I think is the sense the MS rep was referring to. I'm not trying to say "Microsoft publishes mostly derivative titles" as that is largely true of many major publishers and developers, and is therefore not revealing. My point was to say that even in the second, narrower sense, MS is not interested in, nor do they develop, many "original" IPs, despite the rep's comment. So far what they have done is buy studios that have such IPs, and then either shut down or spin off those studios, sometimes keeping the IPs for sequel and spinoff developent, and sometimes not.

MS bought FASA, and now they are gone. MS bought Bungie, Bungie spun itself off to develop new IP and MS ended up keeping the old IP (Halo). MS owned Ensemble which had its own IP, Age of Empires. Ensemble then worked on the Halo franchise, producing Halo Wars, and then was shut down. Halo Wars is now being supported by a smaller, external studio made up of ex-Ensemble devs.

People should watch Lionhead closely now.


Rampant for over se7en years.

[quote=narcogen] In the second sense, Halo is original because it was the first instance of a game based on that particular fictional framework, regardless of earlier previous works. [/quote]

Which framework would that be? The one about the player controlling/following the adventures of a genetically enhanced super soldier clad from head to toe in power armor who single handedly saves the universe? Yeah, that's the original timeless story for the ages that I've never seen or heard of anywhere ever before. I don't think any other game company has released any product along those lines in the past.

[quote=blackstar][quote=narcogen] In the second sense, Halo is original because it was the first instance of a game based on that particular fictional framework, regardless of earlier previous works. [/quote]

Which framework would that be? The one about the player controlling/following the adventures of a genetically enhanced super soldier clad from head to toe in power armor who single handedly saves the universe? Yeah, that's the original timeless story for the ages that I've never seen or heard of anywhere ever before. I don't think any other game company has released any product along those lines in the past.[/quote]

The framework of "first game called 'Halo'".

That is, there is one sense in which neither Halo nor Halo 2 are original, because they both draw on prior sources that were not developed by Bungie or published by Microsoft.

However, there is a sense in which Halo 1 is original and Halo 2 is not, because Halo 2 is the second game, and not the first, to feature the Master Chief and Cortana-- regardless of how much those characters and situations resemble other works not developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft, whereas Halo 2 does feature them, was developed by Bungie, and is published by Microsoft.

That's about as complete an explanation as I can make. Halo 2 is a sequel. Halo 1 isn't. If "original" means "not a sequel" then H1 is original and H2 isn't. If "original" means "not drawing on prior art" then neither are original, but then again, just about nothing is.


Rampant for over se7en years.