Microsoft and its Halo-centric subsidiary, 343 Industries, announced today that there will be a new Halo game in 2015, and it will be called Halo 5: Guardians. That sentence and the image above comprise almost all of the information in the announcement, a nine-paragraph blog post that serves as an impressive greatest-hits compilation of empty video game marketing rhetoric.
Today’s release happened primarily to remind potential console buyers that Halo will continue to exist, and it will only exist on the Xbox One. (By the way, Microsoft announced a few days ago that the Xbox One will be cheaper soon—a happy coincidence.) In that context, the details of Halo 5 aren’t important. Or, rather, they are important, but only insofar as they need to be kept secret, for now. By custom, details of a major-studio video game must be dispensed slowly in trade show demos, periodic screenshot releases, YouTube “developer diaries,” exclusive Game Informer covers, and the like. This steady drip of news proceeds until players have been whipped into such a froth of Halo 5 anticipation that they are throwing wads of cash at the local GameStop cashier—or, if they are purchasing digitally, throwing their credit card number at the local Xbox One, although this is less satisfying.
Many studios in Microsoft’s position—in the early days of a huge marketing plan—would simply release a teaser image with a blurb of text and be done with it, using a sense of mystery to their advantage. There’s no need to go into detail now, anyway. But the Xbox division has a weird, sort of endearing habit of saying something even when it has nothing to say. So for the Halo 5 news, some poor mid-level PR flack was shoved onto the xbox.com stage to, in essence, vamp for nine paragraphs. (The blog post carries the byline of 343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross, but she almost certainly has better things to do.)
There are so many classic game-announcement space-fillers on display here. It’s an exemplar of the form. We get the obligatory fellation of the fan base:
For us at 343 Industries, the launch of the Xbox One was an opportunity to think about what stories we wanted to tell, how to tell them, and how best to push the “Halo” franchise to showcase the platform. And, most importantly, combining our passion for “Halo” with the vocal and informative input from our fans.
It’s a task that we, at 343 Industries, are taking very seriously to ensure we deliver the “Halo” game that fans deserve[.]
A game that will incorporate the things we learned from “Halo 4” about technology, aesthetics, performance and scale—and perhaps more importantly, understanding and embracing a community of gamers who love what lies at the heart of this game, and the limitless potential of the “Halo” universe.
Boasts about the studio’s technical prowess:
Making a “Halo” game that runs at 60 frames per second, on dedicated servers, with the scope, features and scale we’ve been dreaming of for more than a decade, is non-trivial.
Certainly there are some core elements carried over from prior games, but we’ve invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen.
Vague talk of world-changing innovation:
“Halo” isn’t simply a perennial game franchise, it’s a part of the Xbox platform itself. In terms of innovation and ideation, it’s sometimes important to people who might not even play “Halo.”
In the past, “Halo” games have pushed the Xbox forward, showcasing the console and its ecosystem in entertaining and innovative ways.
And when all else fails, a desperate game PR copywriter can simply marvel at how exciting all this stuff is—all this stuff that we can’t talk about yet:
In the tradition of every “Halo” game since its debut in 2001, it is a massive and exciting project.
[W]e’re confident that “Halo” fans will be pretty excited about the special plans we have in store.
To recap, Halo 5: Guardians comes out in 2015.