During this past Saturday, April 7th, I participated in an event called “Populate Halo 3”, where members of the Halo Community played Halo 3 from as little as one match to 24 hours straight. The main goal of the event was to have a great time in a game we all loved, but soon players began to believe that the event would raise Halo 3 into Xbox LIVE’s “Top 10 Most Played Titles of the Week”. We’ll have to wait until this Wednesday to see if that goal was achieved, but the event left great impressions on all who participated that won’t go away anytime soon.
I played the role of cameraman during this event and in the over four hours of gameplay I captured I saw a lot of love for Halo 3, as well as distain for the current iteration of the franchise, Halo: Reach. One player said that the Halo Community was stronger during Halo 3, but when Reach came out it significantly weakened. As a huge Halo fan I can agree with that statement and it inspired me to write this editorial.
Video game communities are the foundation of a game’s success and longevity. Without Halo 3’s community people wouldn’t still be playing it after five years. Without the tools that Bungie offered in Halo 3, the community wouldn’t be as strong as it is. Halo: Reach has been out for 19 months and it has struggled to bring the Halo 3 Community in since day one, mainly due to the large contrast between the two titles. A lot of the players I met said they are patiently awaiting Halo 4 to win them over, and that they will keep playing Halo 3 until 343 Industries’ first entry into the Halo franchise comes out.
This hasn’t been the first time that a sequel has failed to come close to the apex of its predecessor. When the transition from Call of Duty 4 to World at War came around a lot of the fan base refused to leave the former, myself included. During World at War’s tenure there was a larger presence on both Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3, which both overpopulated the newer title for most, if not every month in that year.
The message I’m trying to convey in this rambling post is the importance of the community. There are games with great communities, such as Halo 3. There are games that are losing or lost support from most of their community, such as Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. There are even games with communities that are known for their lack of unity, such as DOTA.
There will always be a community, but it is up to the developers to groom their titles to be accessible for the community to spread their wings and get noticed. That’s ultimately why the Populate Halo 3 event was so influential, because 343 Industries fueled it with prizes and praise. If that’s not a developer that knows how to love their community then I don’t know what is.