Halo 3 Now Downloadable To Xbox 360, But With An Asterisk

Back in 2008, the people who made Halo 3 had a warning for fans: Play the game from the disc; not from a harddrive. Today, Microsoft has a seeming contradictory sales pitch.

Today, Microsoft, the company that owns Halo revealed that Halo 3 is available for purchase and download onto the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Games on Demand service. $US30. No disc needed. You buy the game digitally and save it to the hard drive.

Playing Halo 3 from a hard drive... Isn't that what Bungie warned us not to do? The Halo inventors were concerned that levels in the game would not load swiftly enough if the game was running from a hard drive.

A spokesperson for Microsoft's Xbox 360 group wasn't able to provide Kotaku comment about whether the game had been tweaked to avoid the slowed-loading hard drive issue. We'll update the post if we hear from them.

Kotaku did hear from Bungie, though, which was not involved in releasing the game on Games on Demand but, of course, knows Halo 3's code very well. "To our knowledge there was no additional work done on the code to optimise the game for HDD [hard drive]installation," Bungie community director Brian Jarrard told us.

Even if no tweaks were made, Jarrard told Kotaku, Games on Demand customers shouldn't be that leery: "The game is obviously still playable and enjoyable and it's likely most people may not even notice a difference. However, we did encourage people who owned the disc to not install to HDD since it would result in longer load times. Keep in mind that we're pretty hardcore about this kind of thing so when we found out that it loading Halo 3 to the HDD would increase load times, we wanted to make sure our fans knew about it."

Jarrad said that, ultimately, "in reality it's not that big of a deal, just something we get protective over. Ideally we want all of our fans to have the best possible experience with our games."

If anyone downloads the game, let us know if you notice any slower loading times. Buyer beware, but based on Bungie's answer, don't be that wary.


    @Dragonis - Yep, can't agree more. I would say most of the people (including me) who care about HDD installation, only do it because it helps the 360's DVD Drive survive longer by not using it as much......that and of course the fact that people don't like to hear a Boeing 747 while playing their games :P

      I totally agree with both points. When I play late at night with the sound down on the TV noise is a big issue.

      Im always turning subs on in games that dont auto-sub.

      Also before anyone says anythong no I will not purchase and expensive set of headphones.

      Absolutely, I'd happily endure an extra few seconds load time over noisy drive, especially considering the drive in my launch 360 is now literally louder than my coffee grinder.

    Thought installing it on the hdd decreases loading time for games?

      Not for every game, just for most of them. It depends on how the data is managed on the disc.

      Halo 3, in particular, already uses HDD caching for maps. When Install to HDD was first released, Bungie advised against it because of the increased load times caused reading from and writing to the same device. Having it installed on the HDD probably would increase the loading time if you are looking at initial startup etc, but I think what they were mostly concerned about was when people were on Live, some people would get slower loading maps, and hold up the whole lobby.

    When I first saw the anouncement from Bungie, I was curious, so I installed it to see the difference. It is very much a noticable one.

    Bad call if the code hasn't been changed, I say. :/

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