Updated: 8/1/02; 10:03:52 AM.
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Monday, July 15, 2002

Blue's News reports that Microsoft is finally announcing the PC and Mac versions of Halo.

This is of particular interest, since Bungie had started as a Mac developer (they were responsible for Marathon, the apparently excellent Mac-only first person shooter). Even when they started releasing PC games, they always did them for both platforms. And Halo was first announced at MacWorld in 1999.

So it was a little disappointing when Bungie was bought by Microsoft, and then that Halo (surprise surprise) turned into an XBox-only game. Disappointing, but to be expected.

Here are my three observations about this announcement:

  • First, they think they've gotten their mileage out of Halo as something to drive XBox sales. Either they expect to have something else even more compelling on deck by next year, or they figure everyone who would have bought an XBox for Halo has done so already. Now that they've announced Halo for PC/Mac, they're not going to get any more "God, I can't take the pressure... must buy Halo and XBox now!" sales.

    I think they screwed up here, since I was so so so close to finally cracking once they lowered the price of the XBox to $200. And now I'll just wait until next year.

  • Second, I think the announce date of "next summer" is interesting. Obviously, part of the delay is development time -- but c'mon, they could've been working on this for months and had it ready to go whenever they wanted. And by all accounts, it's not supposed to be that hard to move from XBox to Windows game, right? (Obviously the Mac port is more involved, but the implication is that Bungie had planned for this all along.)

    I think the real reason for the Summer 1993 release date is because Halo almost certainly depends on graphic card features that are guaranteed to be in the XBox, but haven't penetrated the PC market yet. I'm talking about stuff like pixel shading, which is in the GeForce 3 and 4 Titanium, and the Radeon 8500. The XBox uses these features to provide great visuals, but they're still a luxury item on the PC side. I think Microsoft is counting on these features making it into $100 video cards by next summer, and considering that NVidia and ATI manage to double performance on video cards every six months, this seems like a pretty reasonable expectation.

  • Third, I'd like to think the existence of the Mac port is because Microsoft is acknowledging that the Mac platform generates enough sales to be worth targeting. But the story right below this one argues against this -- Microsoft is more likely to freeze out the Mac in revenge. I think the Mac port just reflects whatever deal Bungie made with Microsoft when they were acquired... that there had to be a Mac version as well as a PC version.

Still, Halo! W00t! Finally! And for the Mac, too! What with WarCraft III already out for the Mac, and Neverwinter Nights coming soon, I think the Mac is starting to at least gain a sort of favored nation status with game developers. Fingers crossed!  1:14:37 PM  (comments []  

Microsoft to Apple: See if we don't take our toys and go home!

It seems to me that Microsoft's passive aggressive counter-Apple posturing is a good indication that they now actually view Apple as a threat, not just an antitrust counter-argument.

Mac OS X 10.2, code-named Jaguar, has raised considerable concern in Redmond as well. Jaguar adds some new features "that have some people loosing sleep," said one source. "You don't know what kind of cultural paranoia we have here" about competitors.

Note also that Longhorn is clearly moving in the same direction as Apple already has with Quartz Extreme. To wit: 3D acceleration being used for fast composition of 2D imagery (like, say, your windows).  12:53:21 PM  (comments []  

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© Copyright 2002 Eric Tilton.
Last update: 8/1/02; 10:03:52 AM.