Bungie's Halo launched the Xbox almost single handed, but now the developer Microsoft has so long relied on is going out with a bang, as Reach breaks almost every record there is for first week sales. It's truly a monster release.
But despite Bungie and Microsoft going their seperate ways, it's not a sad moment for the Xbox business; core gamers can look forward to Fable III and Call of Duty (and Microsoft thinks you'll like Kinect too), while next year there's an even more packed corridor of releases including MS front-runner Gears of War 3.
Microsoft's even promised to hunt out more shooter exclusives in the future.
To commemorate the launch of Halo Reach and talk a bit about the future, we sat down with Microsoft UK boss Neil Thompson. Here's what he had to say...
Bungie pretty much launched the Xbox with Halo. Is this a sombre moment in Microsoft history now that you're both parting ways as exclusive partners?
This is a fantastic product. Why would it be a sombre moment? I think it's an amazing game. It does take the Halo franchise to a slightly different place to where it's been historically because this is team-based, it's I think a more emotional journey as you play through the game because you kind of know where you're going with it - you know what the ending is going to be.
Yes, we launched Xbox with Halo, Halo's been a massive part of the Xbox platform and always will be, but the Xbox platform is a very wide platform now with a lot of great content and a lot of elements to it. We think Reach is going to be the next, great part of that journey for us.
You're reportedly spending more on marketing for Reach than you did even for Halo 3. Does that reflect your sales expectations for the game? Halo 3 smashed records - do you anticipate that Reach can go further?
The short answer is "yes" - we have amazing expectations for the game. Obviously we have a fanbase that we've built up over the years which has made it the biggest franchise in history. We've had a lot of new people come to the platform over the last year/year and a half/two years so we think a lot of new people will want to experience what this franchise is like and get involved.
It's a very engaging game to pick up and play, Halo - it always has been. We've got great expectations for it and we think it's an amazing product. We hope we can have a good Christmas.
Do you think the Xbox brand has moved on to the point which it doesn't need to rely on Halo to be successful?
I think the Xbox brand is a very powerful asset in the games industry now. I was talking earlier about what we're doing on mobile, what we're doing with Kinect, the great core games we've got coming in before Christmas, after Christmas... it's a very wide ranging platform for a very wide ranging group of consumers now. We're building assets for all different types of consumers and experience for them across the platform.
It it's a powerful brand, it's been successful. We need to keep it being successful - we need to innovate constantly. We think this version of Halo is a fantastic innovation in that series, Kinect will be a fantastic innovation when that comes out and we're constantly innovating on Live. So all of these things we have to keep vibrant.
With Bungie going multi-platform, can you promise the core Xbox gamers that they're going to get more of this type and calibre of game exclusively on Xbox in the future?