When Halo hit gamers in 2001, it garnered a massive following. Riding on its coattails, Bungie later released Halo 2, which fans immediately ate up, regardless of whether or not it was actually better or worse than the original. As the beta of the third installment in the series looms over the XBox 360, I can't help but wonder whether it will be more or less criticized than the first sequel.With many game franchises, the sequel will sell much better than the first, thanks to increased hype and awareness of the game. Eventually, though, as a series continues past #2, fans start to question whether it is improving, and whether the new, added features or improved visuals are just compensating for a lame attempt to make money. So far, Halo 3 has gotten a ton of press, as even a release of the specs for a rifle in the game will grab serious attention. So is Halo locked in for major success? Would it even be possible for this game to fail? It sure would be nice.
Before you send some hatemail my way, realize that I like Halo. I'm not a junkie for the game, though. Hell, I didn't even own an XBox (gasp!), but I recognize its appeal and hope that it will be everything it's cracked up to be. For the good of the industry and the sake of creativity, it would be interesting to see Halo 3 fail. What louder message could be sent to developers than fans shunning this game, due to lack of innovation or proper balance? They would be forced to respect a strong franchise and its fans by delivering true next steps to the series, maybe even give fans a reason to buy each new iteration. Personally, I don't think Halo 2 was unique enough to demand purchase by Halo owners. I'm giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, though, but I could see them falling the way of EA, pumping out meaningless sequels to beloved games.
I don't think Microsoft is guilty of these things in general (yet); they have some great original IPs on the way (Mass Effect!). I just wish developers were forced to think carefully over each new iteration in a valuable franchise, making it more valuable, instead of just taking that value to the bank. Think of the shock, for example, if Madden 2008 sold poorly. Wow.