“Halo 5: Guardians” is set to come out on Oct. 20, and despite the Halo franchise raking in more than $3.5 billion in global sales for Microsoft, the company wants to push it further -- into e-sports. Microsoft will announce Tuesday that its Halo Championship Series will see players competing for their share of $1 million in prize money – up from $150,000 last year.
“Halo 5: Guardians” is the 12th in the series of first-person shooter (FPS) games, originally created by Bungie and developed by 343 Industries. The new multiplayer capabilities planned for the game are proof of a booming e-sports industry, which is estimated to generate $612 million in revenue worldwide this year alone, according to SuperData Research.
With competitors like Blizzard Activision’s "Call of Duty" franchise also pushing into e-sports, Microsoft needed to step up the Halo scene in a big way.
“The bottom line is all game developers everywhere are looking for ways to turn their games into e-sports titles,” Rahul Sood told the New York Times. Sood is a former Microsoft executive and now chief executive of an e-sports betting site.
One game that is playing well in e-sports is “DotA 2”; its international competition (also known as Ti5) is being held this week, with a total prize pool exceeding $18 million. Players are competing in front of millions of fans who are tuning in from around the world.
“The pros who play e-sports are famous,” said Bonnie Ross, the head of 343 Industries, the Microsoft game studio. “They’re icons who people who look up to. These are people that fans aspire to be.”
Having a huge title in e-sports should also push sales of Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, which are trailing behind PlayStation’s PS4 by more than half.