The Halo franchise is a mainstay of the Xbox ecosystem and is beloved the world over by console and PC gamers, but it almost met its end at a critical moment. Bungie left Microsoft in late 2007 following the completion of Halo 3 in order to cut out on their own and make something new. (That new game eventually turned out to be Destiny.) The conclusion of Halo 3 was somewhat ambiguous and left open the possibility for future games—but we almost didn’t get any.
“When we spun Bungie out, the future of Halo was uncertain,” veteran Microsoft developer Bonnie Ross told IGN. Bonnie Ross was at the forefront of a group who wanted to see the Halo franchise continue. Unfortunately, they had the minor issue of not having anyone at Microsoft to develop it.
Essentially, there were only three options on the table for the future of the Halo franchise:
- Create a new studio with Microsoft developers to specifically develop future Halo titles.
- Contract or acquire a third-party studio to develop the next Halo game.
- Let the Halo story end with the ambiguous conclusion of Halo 3.
Obviously, Microsoft decided to go with option one by forming 343 Industries (named after the character 343 Guilty Spark). Option two was seriously considered with Gearbox as the first pick for a third-party studio that could do the job well. (People who purchased Aliens: Colonial Marines may have just fainted from shock.) The third and final was the last resort and not exactly the most ideal way to do things. After all, the Halo universe is a big one and there was plenty of room for the developers to continue the story of Master Chief or do something entirely new.
Ultimately, we got a little bit of everything. Halo: Reach allowed us to see a little more of the world from the perspective of someone other than Master Chief and several sequels continued the main story. The upcoming Halo Infinite is looking to be one of the most anticipated games in the Halo franchise and one of the most anticipated Xbox One exclusives.