As it is now official that Microsoft and Bungie are splitting ways I'm starting to see editorials and analysis popping up trying to spin the split as a good thing.
No. It isn't.
The split indicates exactly how bad Halo has been in terms of long term sales for Microsoft. Yes, Halo tends to turn a huge sale over its first few weeks of sales, but what about long term sales? What about sales to other platforms besides the Xbox?
thing is, Halo has flopped everywhere else but on it's initial launch on it's initial platforms. Halo 1 for Windows was a critical flop and a retail flop, and the restriction of Halo 2 to Microsoft Vista caused it's release to flop in retail sales as well.
On Nintendo platforms it is not uncommon to see titles like Mario, Metroid, and Zelda still selling in top 20, or even top 10, lists 6 months, 8 months, even over a calender year past release. Considering the genuine phenomenon that is Pocket Monsters, or Pokemon.
Sony isn't a stranger to the long term sales. Consumer demand for Ratchet has sent Insomniac back to the drawing board for another Ratchet Title, and the recent departure of a high level exec for Naughty Dog to Ready at Dawn re-kindled questioning about the status of another Jak and Daxter title.
So, No. Halo is not a phenomenon. Halo is a hyped product, end of story. It is an average title. There is no Halo Effect. There is a Hype Effect.
Now, if Halo had been the genuine phenomenon that Microsoft has paid press to portray the product as, then there isn't any way that a split would occur. Microsoft could easily make it worth Bungie's while to remain on direct payroll.
As I see it, Microsoft is pulling the same stunt with Bungie that Nintendo pulled. Remember when Nintendo dumped Rareware? How many titles had been profitable from Rareware on the Gamecube? How many titles had been delivered on time?
Answer? Only one title was delivered by Rareware, and it came late.
Nintendo dumped Rareware like a bad habit, but also left open the licenses so that Rareware could continue producing content for Nintendo systems.
Microsoft, in the same way, is pushing Bungie out the door. Halo isn't a long term viable franchise for Microsoft, and Microsoft knows that. Microsoft, therefor, is distancing itself from Bungie... but in the same way Nintendo distanced itself from Rareware. Sure, if a good product somehow does come out of Bungie, Microsoft doesn't want to be completely out of the loop...
But by loosing direct day to day control of Bungie, Microsoft has given the company enough room to hang itself.
Speaking for myself, I await the average gamers revulsion when Bungie starts releasing products on their own.