You asked for it, so here it is; the final in the trilogy of legendary match-ups. Only, this time this is not a comparison between gimmicks, graphics or features, but rather a look at the possibility of one specific title taking an edge over another specific title. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then keep on reading and you’ll find out.
First, let’s look over the facts that brought about this final outlook on the Metroid versus Halo series. 1.) Metroid Prime 3: Corruption gets delayed, and Reggie Fils Amie notifies gamers that it will not make the first-quarter release mark, as scheduled. 2.) Instead, MP3: Corruption has been pushed all the way back for a possible holiday season appearance, according to an interview in Newsweek with good ‘ole Reggie. 3.) Microsoft lets a rumor leak out – through IGN, of course – indicating that Halo 3 won’t be making an appearance this fall, but rather during September. The rumor is highly disregarded as a fact, and has neither been confirmed nor reiterated by anyone from Microsoft. But the rumor came just after Reggie originally stated that Metroid Prime 3 was not due out until sometime after the first quarter of 2007.
So what does all this mean? Well, it’s starting to look like a well played chess game by the masters of media manipulation. Sure, a lot of you can say that it’s all hogwash...but let’s face it, Halo 3 is not a guaranteed benchmark for sales outside the hardcore market. It needs the hype so casual gamers can differentiate it as a shooter that’s a step above the rest. Even more-so, Halo 3 is in competition with other Xbox 360 shooters in its own category (and some that aren’t in its category, such as Huxley).
Nintendo, alternatively, doesn’t have to rely so heavily on a marketing position for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. It’s about the only noteworthy, AAA shooter coming to the Wii that we all know won’t suck. Moreover, casual gamers may see Metroid Prime 3 as just another shooter, but could easily be goaded into buying the game for the lack of anything else bombarding the genre. Technically, Nintendo is in a better position to sell MP3, as opposed to Microsoft who must ensure that Halo 3 isn’t going to game-kill other first-party titles during its launch.
Again, this topic seems like a simple “Halo 3 should win scenario...” but it’s not. Take into account that Mass Effect,Blue Dragon and Too Human still need a lot of breathing room to briskly accommodate reputable sales. And if any one of those games aren’t entirely ready to launch until, say November, can you imagine how awful it would be to have Halo 3 and either of the other original IPs getting left in the dust by the Xbox 360’s own flagship software franchise? Unlike the movie business, these games haven’t been completed a year or two ago – they don’t have a couple of weeks of polish before selecting a suitable release during a fiscal year. The delay in a game can sometimes spell absolute disaster for a publisher, or worse yet, the curtain call for that development team. That is, unless the publisher already has a perfect window open for a great sales opportunity. Much like Nintendo with Metroid Prime 3.
But in this case, Microsoft is relying heavily on some new IPs for 2007, which could easily become over-shadowed by established properties, namely Halo 3 and GTA IV. But I’m betting that Microsoft will try and stick to the traditional early November release for the Xbox 360's biggest game to date (next to GTA IV). And I’m betting that Halo 3 will be a precursor for a snazzy late December release for either Mass Effect or Too Human.
Nintendo on the other hand, just has to keep playing the way they’ve been playing. The cards are in their hands and it doesn’t really seem to matter when Metroid Prime 3: Corruption launches. If Nintendo is actually planning on butting heads with Halo 3, dead on, then they obviously believe that MP3: Corruption is a much better game than Microsoft fanboys are giving it credit for.