343 Industries: 'We don't always get it right, but we love Halo'

Halo head Frank O'Connor discusses the future of the Xbox monster...

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The number one thing we've been asked for over the last ten years was the Grunt plushie. We've been pushing that off because it's crazy but the fans wanted that. We're probably going to do one this year because it's the 10th anniversary but no matter what, if you make it because there's demand and you stay true to what's good about Halo - in this case that Grunt plushie has to be funny - then you're going to have a happy audience.

Not everyone likes everything though - we have an audience that only plays games, only reads the books, only playa one level or one weapon no matter what. You have to understand that you have a varied audience. When you have that many people playing you can't look at them monolithically and say 'you're all this one guy', you have to ask how the audience is broken up and this is the big challenge in matchmaking. Most people want to play Team Slayer, but others still want to play Firefight, or like Team Slayer but hate it when you have certain things.

It's like being a DJ and trying to figure out how you keep everyone happy and create an ecosystem so that the party keeps getting better and better rather than accidentally Rickrolling the audience.

Do you see demand for Halo products increase every year?

Yes. Our Halo mega block building company is like, more than a $100m a year business - just that. Forget the Halo underpants business.

It's a huge business and one of the reasons it is so successful is because every single thing from the box art on the mega blocks construction set to the logo on the t-shirt has someone from 343 or historically, Bungie, who cares about Halo working on it and making sure its appropriate.

We don't always get it right, I'm not saying that. We've had some errors in the past but most times we get it right because we care about it and keep it true to the universe.

Do you think that the Halo audience wants to sample the franchise in mediums other than games?

Yes and I think that video games aren't necessarily the best place to tell a narrative story - it is one of the best places to put a universe and Halo proves that. If you think about Halo without the Covenant and the Forerunner architecture, without the anachronistic human guns, the war, it stops making any sense. It's a fantastic place to build a universe because not only you can show the people, you can let them experience it, touch it, feel it, smell it.

That way it's better than movies. I think you can do Star Wars better in a game, ironically, than you can in a movie. You can let people be in the next Starfighter or fight with a Lightsaber. Games have a huge advantage over other mediums but telling a story while you're desperately trying to hold off hordes of Covenant can be distracting and so it's not necessarily the best place for a narrative.

So we lightly touch on a character in a game and people say 'I'd like to know more about this guy but you keep shooting at me'.

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