You know, more than anything I think I miss the community aspect of Halo. don’t get me wrong, obviously there are more than a small smattering of people playing these games now, but back in the days of CE it felt like Halo was the only thing.
When Halo first launched in 2001 I was a sophomore in high school. Having no other real outside life than the Boys & Girls Club made it easy to simply play this game. That’s all we did. Go to school, go to the club, play basketball, then play Halo once the gym was closed. We had multiple Xbox’s set up and ever day was a LAN party for us. Obviously, we loved it.
Halo 2 came out as did Xbox LIVE. I remember the first, brutal at the time, steps to setting up my account. It was so foreign, and to be honest, Halo 2 was the only robust offering of a game out at the time. I worked at Gamestop for the launch. I remember there were something like 200 people in line to get their copy in Bellevue. But again, being one of the only great titles on LIVE at the time, everyone played it. Which in turn made it really fun.
Halo 3 launched, and with it came the biggest game release of all time. This statement always made me chuckle because in my mind video games were finally becoming a mainstream product rather than a niche market. Obviously it wasn’t a small market, but with the added features in consoles owning one was productive for the family rather than just the gamer in the household. By this point, though, more and more games were coming out that could challenge Halo. Gears of War, Call of Duty, Killzone, Madden, casual games, MMO’s, so on and so forth. Games were evolving, and so too are people’s tastes.
Most games were also pushing towards the online play aspect as well which in turn lowered the market share of the Halo series online. So to tie it back in to community, me and my friends played, but not as often as we used to play Halo 2 online. Not because there was anything wrong with the game, but simply because there was so much more out there.
Ah, and now ODST. I love this game. Really I do. There is so much replay value in it I could never get rid of it. But, it’s lacking something. The community feature. I’m addicted to Firefight. Most of you have no idea how much I love Firefight. But if you’re still reading there’s no shame in me tooting my own horn for a bit. The only problem is that i can’t find other players who share that same passion, and thus ODST hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. Matchmaking support was a huge disappointment.
Now that we’re a few years later, the same changes that have applied for Halo 3, have taken shape in Reach. I absolutely LOVE Reach. There is not one aspect of the gameplay that I would change. That’s right. not Armor Lock, Sprint, or any other Ability or mechanic. Reach has challenged me to evolve my gameplay, and has kept me interested this entire time.
But I haven’t played Reach as much as I thought I would. I’m the guy that camps out, and has to be first in line for any Halo event. But somehow I wasn’t even a Lt. Colonel until about a month ago. How you ask? Simple, life. I’m grown up now. Same with my friends. Some of us have kids, all of us have jobs. Others have moved away or lost a love for their gaming days. Some can’t play for hours on end like we used to. I think that our community is dwindling not because of the games themselves, but because of our priorities.
You may not agree, which is totally fine. I’m merely referencing what I’ve noticed in my personal life. I’ll be the first to admit there are more games out there for me to love now. I enjoy CoD. I enjoy Gears. I’m addicted to games I never thought I would play, like Peggle, and believe it or not our very own community manager bsangel was the one to turn me on to that game. The growth of the gaming industry is what has dwindled the population. That’s not necessarily a negative, just a challenge of sorts.
Halo hasn’t died out, or even started to. I think it’s just being challenged in multiple different aspects of life. What best way to conquer those challenges? Find the people who care as much as you do, and interact with them. My addiction for Reach came back as soon as I became super active on these forums. I went from having one to two people on my Friends List playing Halo to having 10 or so on at any given moment. This is what I need to stay interested. may sound sappy, but I need friends to keep it interesting.
Try it out. It may work for you guys too.