Head of 343 Industries Talks Halo Franchise Innovation – Careful Not to Lose “Core Spirit”

Halo franchise innovation

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences held a Q&A with 343 Studios head and Microsoft Vice Presidnet Bonnie Ross at D.I.C.E. 2017. They covered a host of topics from her thoughts on franchise preservation and Sci-Fi universe building. Ross had a lot to say, heralding fans for helping to build their franchise, and how to innovate the game without losing it’s “Core Spirit”. You can read the full Q&A here, it’s a good read, but below is a breakdown of what she had to say about Halo franchise innovation specifically.

Ross was asked how the company reconciles new fans with older fans of the franchise without disrupting the community. Ultimately, how would Halo franchise innovation please both new and old fans? Her response was focused on what the Halo universe offers to story telling, and how the fans influence the way the games are shaped. She was particularly excited about Halo Wars 2, and the reception of the characters and story therein.

Halois an epic sci-fi universe and one where we have the luxury of being able to tell a multitude of stories. With each Halogame, we look at the story we want to tell and how it fits into the broader universe. While we certainly look for ways to branch out and innovate, we’re also careful not to lose the core spirit that makes Halowhat it is. Fans are our heart and soul, and this universe was built for them. We do listen to fan feedback and I’m really encouraged by the early reception to the story and characters of Halo Wars 2, such as the Brute leader, Atriox.”

It is both refreshing and comforting to know that developers are taking fans so seriously. Halo has enjoyed a long run thus far, and a lot of that has been owed to the fans. As if to demonstrate the point, prior to the franchise question, Ross talked about fan influence and how 343 industries keeps Sci-Fi universes alive and growing. Fans bring a lot to Halo franchise innovation, and she acknowledged that after a question about the role of creators and the community in preserving sci-fi universes.

I think the community plays a critical role in preserving the universe. They are the ones who breathe life into it by both playing and contributing to it. I think the most successful franchises see big community contributions through things like fan fiction, user-generated content — like our Forge mode — and more. Some of our biggest multiplayer game modes, like “Infection” and “Grifball,” were created directly by the Halo community. For us, we look at the community as a partner and we strive to give them the tools to continue to expand the universe.”

Bonnie Ross expressed a deep love and appreciation throughout the Q&A for fans, their contributions, and recognized that their vocal support and feedback is what has made Halo franchise innovation possible. One of the final questions was about possible frustration with fans being too impassioned or vocal, and going after each other in the community. She had this to say on the subject:

Halo is what it is today because of the fans. I think we’d be more concerned if they stopped being so vocal. Halo is about an epic sci-fi story with campaign and competitive and cooperative multiplayer. Many times the audience is different for different modes in our game and thus we always have a lot of constructive feedback. But the fans, communities and their passion keep the universe alive. The 405th Halo costuming community spends hundreds of hours to make costumes, that in some cases, are better than our professionally made ones. Our Reddit Halo community is super engaged, and Team Beyond is an incredibly passionate community specifically around multiplayer.”

Over all it would seem that 343 industries and Halo are in good hands under Bonnie Ross. Intuitive planning, receptive active listening to fan feedback, and a team of talented developers is likely to continue to bring us the kind of Halo franchise innovation we can get behind. As games in the sci-fi universe continue to grow and expand, we hope all of our fan favorites approach their games with this kind of care and grace!

What do you think about Halo franchise innovation changing the universe? Do you think 343 industries is doing a good job of preserving the Halo universe while keeping it fresh? Sound off in the comments below!

Charles Douglas734 Posts

Deep in the mountains of the south west lives a man who writes game editorials, makes YouTube Videos, and is an overall mega nerd. An avid believer in Unicorns, and your new all star line backer, Number 34, CHARLES DOUGLAAAAAAASSSS!!!!


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