In the “what took you so long?” news category, a Halo game for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 was announced on Tuesday. The game, an exclusive for Microsoft devices called “Halo: Spartan Assault”, will cost $6.99 when it launches in July. It marks Microsoft’s biggest effort yet to take advantage of its successful Xbox platform with a top-tier franchise gaming title.
Here’s the game scenario, which is played from a top-down perspective unlike the typical first-person shooter (FPS) approach found in the Halo games:
“Set between the events of “Halo 3″ and “Halo 4,” “Halo: Spartan Assault” is a new chapter of the award-winning “Halo” universe that explores the first missions of the Spartan Ops program and dives deeper into the backstory of Human-Covenant wars. Play through the eyes of either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis stationed aboard the UNSC Infinity as they fight never-before-seen battles against Covenant forces.”
Microsoft isn’t just using the Halo name to sell the game — and presumably both Windows and Windows Phone devices — there’s a tie-in to the Xbox title. Experience points and achievements earned in Spartan Assault game carry over to Halo 4 on the Xbox.
The new game is likely the first of many such software integrations between Microsoft desktop and mobile products. Last year, Microsoft prepped developers for shared code and services that could be used for both Windows and Windows Phone software. I noted back then:
“Windows Phone 8 will share a common core of code with Windows 8 on desktops and laptops, much as Apple has used OS X as the core of its iOS software. The new smartphone software makes it easier for developers to create one app for both platforms while also adding additional hardware features to let Microsoft better compete in the heavily contested smartphone market.”
The approach will benefit developers that can help build software for the Windows ecosystem at large. And from a consumer standpoint, franchise exclusives such as Halo could propel sales for Windows Phone 8 handsets.
While the devices are capable and offer a fresh user interface, Microsoft hasn’t offered many reasons for consumers to choose Windows Phone over iOS or Android smartphones. Halo: Spartan Assault is a perfect example of one reason. You could argue that one exclusive mobile app doesn’t sell a phone, but I can recall many people not buying into Android due to key apps reserved for iOS. If Microsoft can add more of those exclusive appealing titles, it could provide a nice boost for Windows Phone.