Halo To Leap From Computer Screens To Mobile Phones

Blockbuster console game franchise Halo is going to have a new installment for mobile phones. Microsoft made the announcement Tuesday. It's a confirmation of the way the gaming industry is going, away from relying on $60 console games and closer to mobile and micropayments.

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Yesterday, Microsoft announced that its signature video game franchise "Halo" will be making the leap from the flat screens to smartphones.

As NPR's Sami Yenigun reports, this is seen the future of gaming.

SAMI YENIGUN, BYLINE: It's the 26th century, humans are at war with an advanced alien race called the Covenant and, as you might guess...

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEOGAME, "HALO")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Things aren't going well.

YENIGUN: Which is why they've called in the big guns, you, the master chief, it's your job to save, well, humanity.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEOGAME, "HALO")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: We'll be fine.

YENIGUN: Assuming you're good with assault rifles and grenades. "Halo" has been doing better than fine. It's a multi-billion dollar franchise that until this point, has made its moolah primarily through selling games for home consoles.

Industry analyst Billy Pidgeon says game developers are looking past that box in the living room.

BILLY PIDGEON: For some time, developers have been excited about the idea of allowing the gamer to interact with the game whoever they are on whatever platform they are on.

YENIGUN: Which is why the news that "Halo: Spartan Assault" is coming to Windows phones and tablets makes sense. For starters...

PIDGEON: Lately, you know, kids have been growing up with smartphones and tablets.

YENIGUN: Kids get touch screens. The next generation gamer will might be better at flicking "Angry Birds" with their finger than steering a spaceship with a joystick. And games on phones have developed a business model that works. Gamers download the game for free, then they're fed advertising, and they pay for upgrades in the game.

The next reason the move to mobile makes sense for a franchise like "Halo," way more people use phones than play consoles.

PIDGEON: The potential audience that are available on mobile and on the Web, its much, much larger. Now you are talking, you know, hundreds of millions to a billion worldwide.

YENIGUN: Pidgeon thinks that at this point the console sector has peaked, whereas the mobile market is wide open. But Microsoft isn't pushing "Halo" to Apple and Android products. So what gives?

PIDGEON: It may be that Microsoft's primary goal here is to garner interest and support for its proprietary platforms.

YENIGUN: Microsoft wants to sell Windows phones and tablets to "Halo" fans. That way, maybe, when the 26th century rolls around, we'll still be fighting aliens through Windows.

Sami Yenigun, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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