Firstly, I apologize for the forthcoming walls of text, but I think I have valuable input, so please bear with me :). I’m hoping that maybe a CM will see this post as reasonable and forward it on to someone at 343 / MS.
Halo 4 should be considered for PC digital download through Games for Windows & Steam. The PC digital download market is huge these days. I am suggesting a digital only release, because not only does a download-only release remove the costs of manufacturing the game DVD, packing costs, etc., but it has an infinite supply. It’s also a huge convenience to users (don’t have to go anywhere, just click buy and download). Also, with development being complete on 360, all that needs to be done is porting the completed game to PC (which I know entails a lot, but it’s obviously not the same amount of work as developing a game from the ground up).
As an example of how big and profitable the digital download market is as of late, we’ll take a look at Steam and the recent release of Borderlands 2. Steam is the most popular digital game distribution platform, and Borderlands 2 is the most played game on Steam as of late.
When B2 released last week, it had around 120,000 concurrent players at peak. That alone is $7,200,000 from mostly digital purchases. Assuming that that peak amount of concurrent players was only 10% of total buyers (and 10% is a reasonable guess) that means a total gross profit of ~$72,000,000. Clearly, Gearbox and 2k Games made the right move to put the game on PC.
Take note that digital download sales aren’t included in statistics of copies sold for any game. For example, Diablo 3, according to VGChartz, sold 2.72m copies, but according to an Activision earnings call from August, the game surpassed 10 million copies sold. So clearly, digital download is by far the primary means of purchasing pc games these days.
What I’m getting at with all this talk of digital download and sales figures, is that there is an excellent effort to reward ratio in putting the game on PC. I know there are hurdles within this matter. One being that since Halo is an Xbox only/Microsoft flagship it can’t be released on Steam. The answer to that, is the game doesn’t have to be on Steam… but since Steam is by far the biggest digital distributor, it would be wise to consider it, hurdles and all.
Another is piracy and hackers. I say piracy shouldn’t be looked at as lost profits. The people who pirate were probably not potential buyers in the first place. When you consider Diablo 3 selling over 10 million copies, or even my B2 ballpark guess of 1.2 million copies sold, the effort to reward ratio remains significant. As far as hackers in multiplayer go, force punkbuster, and require mandatory authentication for playing online (or even singleplayer).
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got to say, and I’m hoping that someone over there in Haloland hears me out. There’s a lot of people, including myself, wishing for this