Industry veteran Rich Vogel has had a hand in some of the most influential games-as-a-service (GaaS) games in the industry, including Ultima Online, Meridian 59, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Now Mr. Vogel has joined Certain Affinity as Vice President of Technology and Services to lend his expertise on two new service-based games: a new IP and an original game. What if the latter was a cross-platform free-to-play Halo game with microtransactions?
Yes, this is me thinking out loud, and no, I don't have concrete evidence to back this theory up other than my personal analysis of the games industry and a few bits of perspective that may lend some credence to the theory. When I say a "free to play Halo game," I mean on PC and consoles with microtransactions/lootboxes, a plug for streaming, and a set up for eSports action. There's a few reasons why I think this could happen. For starters, Certain Affinity has worked on six Halo projects, three of which were major roles: they co-developed Halo 4 and Halo 5 with 343 Industries, and made Halo: The Master Chief Collection's multiplayer--so it's fair to say they're well-versed in the Halo world. Secondly, Mr. Vogel is keen on aligning Certain Affinity to the billion-dollar market of GaaS, and instantly recognizable properties like Halo would ensure a playerbase. Thirdly, Microsoft is shifting towards a cross-unification platform by making Xbox a service rather than a console; this service bridges Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One consoles, and the company has focused intensively and the popular games-as-a-service format, which has found its way into nearly every major first-party game to date, from Halo 5: Guardians to Gears of War 4 and the most recent Forza 7.
This wouldn't be the first time (nor the last) Microsoft has tried something like this. Remember Halo Online? Back in March 2015 Halo dev 343 Industries announced Halo Online, an experimental free-to-play shooter that, for some reason, was only available in Russia. The game servers shut down in December of the same year, and was confirmed dead in August 2016. This could've been a fleeting test, or it could've been a gateway to something bigger, something that aligns with Microsoft's transformative values and a project that could fill the Halo-shaped void while 343i works on Halo 6 (although Halo 5 is still a money-making juggernaut).