Microsoft is beta testing Halo 3 (Halo is probably the most popular console game ever). Halo 3 will be released on Sep 25, 2007. But there is a beta running now – if you buy specially marked copies of the game Crackdown then you are in the beta.
Sure, I bought Crackdown. I was in the Crackdown beta – fun game, lot’s of senseless violence. Just the thing to take the edge off :).
But I haven’t played Crackdown since I bought it – instead, my kids use the Crackdown DVD to launch the Halo 3 beta. I think they are losing a lot of sleep this week. But it is the last week of school for them, and they both did very well this year (my son graduates HS this weekend!). So I am cutting them some slack.
But oddly enough, all my XBOX stats are getting skewed – every time they play Halo 3 they have to have the Crackdown DVD in the XBOX 360. So all that playing time is credited to playing Crackdown. This is obviously skewing the play rate for Crackdown -making it MUCH more popular that it probably really is.
But I don’t have an issue with it – I think it was a brilliant marketing move by Microsoft – promise me early access to what will probably become the best selling video game of all time (Halo 3) in exchange for me spending $59.95 on a game that is benefiting from inflated stats. Win-Win for Microsoft – and I don’t lose anything. Once the kids tire of the Halo 3 beta I’ll play Crackdown – and so will they.
People that are counting Microsoft out of the online ad business are forgetting the power of the online gaming community Microsoft has built. XBOX Live is one of the largest social networking communities in existence – and as Microsoft pushes the XBOX Live platform onto the desktop they have a hell of a weapon at their disposal. Google has nothing to compare to XBOX Live. And barring buying Sony, or building a gaming platform from scratch, it a market they can’t play in. And it is a VERY, VERY lucrative market (the video game industry is MUCH larger than the Movie industry!).
It will be really interesting to see how the conversion of online web-based Internet use merges with the console based Internet use – and how that’s monetized. Right now, I have to think Microsoft has a huge lead in this space.