A very sharp MegaGames reader, with a lot of free time on his hands, has pointed us in the direction of an official Microsoft page which gives away some information regarding the future of Halo. Considering the unparalleled sales success of Halo 2, you don't have to be a nuclear scientist to figure out that Microsoft will definitely mine for some more Halo gold.
Details of MS plans for Halo 3 however, have been scarce and many questions remain unanswered. When will development begin on the third game? Will the third installment appear only for XBox 2? The information provided does offer some hints about what we can expect from Halo 3.
Ironically the information regarding Halo 3 comes from MS CEO, Steve Ballmer, discussing how secure and leak proof, Microsoft's Information Rights Management for the Office system is. The comments were made on October 21, 2003 during the MS Office System 2003 launch. In order to demonstrate the security properties of the Office System, Ballmer proceeds to give an example We're working on the next version -- I hate to tell you this confidentially but I'll have to swear you to secrecy now -- we're working on the next version of Xbox right now and we're working on Halo 2 and Halo 3, the two newest versions of the game.
Now, the plan for those things are super, super secret, top secret type stuff. I mean, they really are, in fact, because if you take a look at our competition with Sony it's a big chess game -- who's going to do what. And the team said, 'Look, we want to send out the documents about this, but we really only want them to go to very few people.' They sent those documents and the e-mail around that protected with Information Rights Management. I got the document. I couldn't print it. I was not allowed. They didn't give me permission to print it. I couldn't Print Screen it. They didn't want to give me permission to do that. I couldn't forward it and when I replied to it, it stripped everything out of the original e-mail so that there was not a trace, not a place for leakage in the system.
What the above comments tell us, bearing in mind they were made over a year ago, is that Halo 3 is already over a year in its development and was, in fact, being developed almost in parallel to Halo 2. The mention of the next XBox and the timing on Halo 3's development suggest that the game will most likely be a launch partner for XBox Next, just like its granddaddy was for XBox.
All these are things we could, more or less, guess I hear you say. True but it's always nice to hear it from official lips, they don't come any more official than Steve Ballmer, but it is also interesting to find out that MS was developing Halo 2 and 3 in parallel. The other re-assuring aspect is that Microsoft may have finally created a full-proof Information Rights Management system which however, is not fool-proof.