Tag: Halo 3

‘Cause Sooner Or Later, It’s Over…

iris_02.gifA recently leaked article, supposedly posted to Microsoft’s internal news site, appears to verify the dreaded truth — Halo 3’s Iris “spiral marketing campaign” has come to its official end. The article, which was posted to the Unfiction forums with permission from the author, reveals the end date of August 16th, which coincides with the opening of Iris’ fifth and final server, or “episode”. It also details the campaign’s goals, achievements, challenges and failures. Undoubtedly, the primary point of dissension this article raises is the challenge undertaken to provide a “low-key, low budget campaign [which] does more with less, whetting the appetite of the blockbuster video game’s fanatical followers.”

The article reveals that Iris was developed by “more than 50 people from 20 Microsoft teams [who] contributed time, coding expertise, and industry contacts.” The attempt was ultimately to provide a grand marketing scheme incurring little cost while attaining “critical mass” — defined in the article as getting “interview requests from The Wall Street Journal”. “It’s about breaking out of the hardcore and getting into the mainstream,” said Aaron Elliott, online marketing manager for Xbox Global Marketing (also listed as one of the ‘founders’ of the Society of the Ancients, an in-game organization that appeared at the beginning, but was never heard from again).

Strictly speaking, given the resources used to produce the campaign and the costs (or lack thereof) incurred, Iris may be considered an impressive success. However, if one includes the overall sentiment of the demographic that was actually actively playing or following Iris, one might say that their reach had exceeded their grasp. They seem to have ignored (or miscalculated) an inherent factor in the kind of campaign they were hoping to produce – most players had expectations, whether misplaced or not, of another I Love Bees. That potential was lost, and while the production may have been impressive to some, it failed dramatically in achieving what could have been achieved quite easily.

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History is Circling Back Upon Us, Like – Dun Dun DUN – A Halo!

halo3.jpgThe gears of the Universe spin further and further apart.
Ever greater grows the gulf between souls,
And distance gives false hope of safety
But for the grim tidings this messenger bears:

The enemy is almost upon us…

…slouching toward Bethlehem to be born, perhaps.

The lines above were taken from an email sent out as part of what appears to be an ARG (or at least a promotion that takes a few pages from the ARG playbook) designed to lead in to the launch of the third installment of the wildly popular Halo game series.

It all began on Monday, June 11th, when an entity calling itself Adjutant Reflex began posting cryptic messages on the Bungie forum. From there, the trail lead to an alien-awareness site called Society of the Ancients (SOTA), as well as one entitled “Transmission Log,” which contains a countdown slated to end this Thursday. SOTA members have since staged live protests in New York, Vancouver, San Francisco and London, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with a symbol that seems to figure significantly in the unfolding story. Elements in the game link directly to the Halo 3 site, so it appears that the campaign is not hewing as firmly to the “This Is Not A Game” aesthetic as its predecessor, 2004’s ilovebees, but there appears to be the beginning of a rich storyline that may illuminate some of the unanswered questions in the Halo mythology.

Halo fans have been speculating rampantly (pun intended, of course), and the launch of the game has also served as an informal reunion for a lot of beekeepers (participants in ilovebees). The identity of the company responsible for the game has been a hot topic of discussion, with 42 Entertainment — creators of ilovebees — among the most popular suspects.

However, in an exclusive statement to the panel on the ARG Netcast, 42 Entertainment’s Vice President of Experience Design, Elan Lee, announced that the campaign was not a 42 project, and Steve Peters of 42 also replied to an email sent yesterday with a similar statement. Bungie Studios, makers of the Halo series, has used ARG-like elements to promote their games before, beginning with 1999’s Cortana Letters, so it’s possible they are doing it in-house. Regardless of who the creators are, with live events, Forerunner poetry to interpret, mysterious locked servers on the Halo 3 site, and the mysterious Adjutant Reflex at large, it promises to be an exciting ride!

Join the discussion at the Unfiction forums, visit thebruce’s wiki to get caught up, or chat with other players in #halo on irc.chat-solutions.org.

Thanks to the denizens of #halo for their invaluable help in summarizing the action thus far.