In a very real way, it’s nice to know the age of the high powered publicity stunt is not over. When onlookers in London gazed up at a gigantic Halo glyph in the sky last night, most had no idea Microsoft was launching Halo 4. In an event reminiscent of the 1938 Orson Welles War of the World’s radio broadcast (video at bottom), one of today’s most powerful companies, reached back into a PR bag full of marketing tricks for this week’s new game sensation.
If ever a Londoner kid might have wished for the real Master Chief’s arrival, last night may have been the night for that fantasy to unfold. Ideally that is, for Microsoft and all the gamers concerned. The world’s biggest software company decided to create and then fly the largest glyph ever flown by a helicopter to, in effect, reproduce the viral panic H.G. Welles’ War of the Worlds had when radio listeners really believed those Martians were landing here on planet Earth. Despite the fact that we have all been far to inundated by media in the 21st Century, the relatively “cool” effect Halo had on London is still just that -- utterly cool.
The specifics of last night’s apparition include Microsoft hauling in some 50 designers, engineers and fabricators to create the 50 foot wide, 3.2 ton flying object -- then flying it over London’s Thames at night. The effect of the some 113,096 LED’s glowing effervescent orange had to have sent a shiver up many a Covenant spine, or UNSC ones for the matter. What is really important though, is Halo enthusiasts get to blast away at an all new set of story boards for Christmas. The ever popular Bungie trilogy is now headed toward a new dawn via 343 Industries, a subsidiary of Microsoft Studios.
For the complete effect, the three videos in sequence start the gaming frenzy rolling, I know as an original Halo fan, I’m feeling the need for the sniper rifle already. Check out Halo 4 and let us know your take on the new series.
A bit of background for those unfamiliar with our mention of The War of the Worlds broadcast so long ago. Orson Welles, one of the great voices of all time and actors as well, performed a Halloween radio broadcast of the popular show The Mercury Theatre on the Air in which he portrayed a Martian landing event so life like, so real, that the broadcast produced widespread panic, listeners thinking aliens were really death ray disposing of their fellow humanoids. People scrambled from their homes, called the police, expressed sincere outrage when they discovered Martians had not actually landed.
Unfortunately or fortunately for Microsoft, depending on how one looks at it, decades of hyped science fiction and sensationalism have made the world a bit more calloused and less naive. Fortunately, we have never lost our keen sense of what a good story is, or the need to blast evil creatures to smithereens.
As for the days of radio, you’ll have to envision technology then.
War of the World/Halo mashup -- courtesy MS and Wikipedia