Grand Theft Auto 4 gridlock clears way for Halo 3

7 Aug 2007

The forthcoming Halo 3 will be the computer game hit of 2007 now that Grand Theft Auto 4 has found itself stuck in a traffic jam, Microsoft Games Studio corporate vice-president Shane Kim told

“We feel good about where we’re at right now,” said Kim. “We’ve close to four million users and as we enter the holiday season this year we will deliver the greatest product line-up in the history of the games industry. It’s our aspiration to win this generation and leave Sony far behind.”

Grand Theft Auto 4 was originally due to ship this October and would have led to a battle-royale between the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and the Microsoft Xbox 360. It was for this reason that many believe Microsoft chose to ship Halo 3 in September. It is believed that the latest instalment in the Grand Theft franchise may not hit stores until next February at the earliest.

Halo 3 is going to be the biggest hit in the industry now that Grand Theft Auto 4 has moved out of the holiday season. It has virtually cleared the way for Halo 3.

“This will hurt Sony and the PS3 because now they’ve an even more lacklustre line-up for the holiday season than before,” Kim said.

Kim said he believes the advent of Halo 3 will result in knock-on sales of the Xbox 360 console. “We believe that there are people out there holding off buying an Xbox 360 because they’re waiting until Halo 3 hits stores. We also believe that a large number of people who will buy the consoles will be PlayStation2 users.

Halo 3 will be a major weapon for us, not only from a revenue from games sales perspective but also because it will drive a lot of hardware sales for Microsoft,” Kim said.

Kim said he applauds what Nintendo has done with the Wii and the increase in popularity of casual gaming. “It’s good for the industry to think about how to make gaming entertainment more mainstream. We have to compete with that and think about extending this kind of entertainment beyond the traditional gaming lobby.”

Kim cited three core reasons why he believed the PS3 is not a threat to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 family. “Price is a big inhibitor. They’re asking people to spend €600 and higher in Europe and the US. This puts them at a competitive disadvantage because we’re all trying to get to the mass market price point as fast as possible.

“The second disadvantage the PS3 faces is the online environment. We have five years of commercial experience with the Xbox Live service, with over seven million members and we’ll have ten million next June with more great services. Creating Xbox Live wasn’t easy and keeping up the high quality is challenging.

“The third disadvantage for PS3 is content, particularly exclusive content. Most third-party publishers are going to support all platforms, but it’s up to the first party to deliver the exclusive content to differentiate the platform.”

He cited breakout franchises such as Ensemble’s Halo Wars as indicative of the power of the Halo property. “We’ve built up an entertainment property that we manage well and can extend out to other areas.”

Asked if he believes the Halo movie project (rumoured to be directed by Peter Jackson) will ever come about, Kim is certain. “We’ll see the Halo movie only because I won’t let it die. I’m passionate about that. It has a great story, it’s compelling.

“What has always separated Halo from the rest is not only the world-class gameplay but also character development, the set of emotions, the audio, music and art. It’s simply the best in our industry,” Kim concluded.

By John Kennedy