Big Discount on Halo: Spartan Strike

Halo: Spartan Strike, the first of Microsoft’s iOS Halo games, is currently on sale for 99 cents!

Shooter fans, be warned: Spartan Strike isn’t a traditional Halo game. Microsoft’s mobile Halo games are top-down action-strategy games, and play more like a sci-fi Diablo than a first-person shooter. Don’t let that turn you off, though. These are excellently designed games, with high production values, relatively short missions that lend themselves well to mobile gaming, and full MFi controller support.

Halo Spartan Strike screenshot
Spartan Strike is a very different Halo, but still fun

On a higher level, I think Microsoft’s iOS software (and gaming) strategy is fascinating. As Microsoft’s priorities have changed, their treatment of iOS has shifted dramatically. The Halo games are a great example of this.

The mobile Halo games were originally released years ago, for Windows Phone 7. By using the familiar Halo license and including Xbox Live Achievements, Microsoft hoped these games would make the Windows Phone platform attractive for Xbox gamers. This didn’t work, and for a variety of reasons beyond the scope of this blog, Windows Phone was a catastrophic failure.

Now, Microsoft’s is transitioning into a services company. This change of focus realigns Microsoft’s interests – suddenly, instead of using exclusive software as a draw to get people to use their hardware and OS, Microsoft benefits from getting their games and apps on as many platforms as possible.

From that perspective, Halo on iOS makes perfect sense. Microsoft gets access to Apple’s huge audience, they get to expose the Halo brand to gamers who might not own an Xbox, they get to push Xbox Live (and it’s achievements) on gamers who might have only used Game Center. It fits.

With the relative failure of the Xbox One, and Microsoft’s changing priorities regarding services vs hardware lock-in, I wonder if these games might be the first of many Xbox licenses we’ll see on iOS.