Spartan Ops is more than a mode, really. Offering a weekly cadence of cooperative multiplayer missions that will episodically progress the overall story, it's a full blown initiative. According to alleged leaks to a Halo fan blog, each mission (as part of a 50-mission series over 10 weeks) will offer up to an hour of cooperative play each week throughout the season.
Do Microsoft and 343 Industries feel threatened by FarmVille? I doubt that, but what they might be threatened by is the constant stream of content these social games offer. It's seems that, in the age of app updates and gamers' seemingly shrinking availability to play, the duo wants to future-proof its biggest bet of the year. Generally speaking, gamers have more mega franchises begging for their attention than ever, so a move like Spartan Ops makes even more sense.
But it's the experiences that players can squeeze into the free 15 or 20 minutes they may have on a given night--nay, it's the volume of those experiences--that stand to slowly draw them away from Blockbuster Brand A. And where can gamers go, even the core set these days, to find a myriad of those experiences? Reach into your pocket or log onto Facebook.
If Spartan Ops proves successful for Halo 4--and, I my mind, there's little doubt--it will be interesting to see whether, or how quickly, the rest of the console game industry adapts and begins to offer similar experiences. Just look at the success of episodic games like The Walking Dead series. If core games want to continue to compete for the time of increasingly strapped gamers, weekly content release schedules a la Facebook games may be the answer.
Are you a fan of this weekly content release strategy? Do you see more developers adopting this approach? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
|Joe Osborne is associate editor at Games.com News. Weekly in Social Space, Joe shares opinions and observations on the intersection of social gaming and traditional games. Follow him on Twitter here.|