No one’s going to argue that Halo was the original Xbox’s killer game, playing a noticeable role in the console’s early success. The series also made multiplayer console gaming over the internet via Xbox Live a serious thing and not just a poorly-supported gimmick. Bungie president Harold Ryan is convinced that Halo and its successors were so instrumental to Xbox Live that, without it, the service would not have succeeded. Is he wrong?
Ryan wasn’t always president — he served as a test manager for Halo 2, according to this article over on GamesIndustry. In the same story, Ryan states he believes that Xbox Live “wouldn’t have made it” without Bungie’s seminal series, along with Bungie itself:
“I think Xbox Live wouldn’t have made it … I don’t think the Xbox would be where it is today without Bungie and without Halo. As a group, we provided both technical and creative guidance and thought leadership that really pushed the limits. We weren’t just a game developer using the service. We were integrated in the design of the service and how it worked. Systems for groups and matchmaking and skill ranking were all things that were pushed the furthest and the hardest by us.”
I’d argue that if Halo and Bungie hadn’t stepped up, someone else would have. It’s not like Microsoft had little experience with multiplayer gaming — gamers were playing online on PCs long before consoles cut in and a fair chunk of that gaming occurred on Windows. But whether it’d have been executed as well and in a timely fashion? I reckon Ryan has a point.