There haven’t been many movie and TV adaptations of Xbox franchises historically, except for the few Halo direct-to-DVD adaptations that have been released here and there. And while a big-budget Halo TV show is set to debut on Paramount Plus in the US next year, it’s clear that film and TV are currently not a priority for Xbox.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer speaking to The envelope with Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick said it all comes down to the economy. The business opportunity for interactive entertainment like games has better money making potential than movies or TV shows based on Microsoft’s IP addresses.
Game-based movies and TV shows are more for marketing and advertising purposes, rather than driving profit on their own, Spencer believes. Strauss Zelnick expressed similar sentiments, which is why Take-Two has rejected all offers to make GTA movies over the years.
Spencer went on to say that the market value of gaming IP addresses is very high, so when Microsoft is considering doing something with movies and TV shows, it’s “very, very careful.”
Instead, Spencer emphasized the value of interactivity in games, where players can decide how they want to guide and shape their experience. Movies and television, which Spencer described as passive entertainment, don’t offer the same potential income as games themselves.
Spencer went on to say that games make Xbox so much money that she doesn’t want to risk a poorly performing movie or TV show because it could negatively affect the perception of a given franchise.
Spencer went on to warn that when Microsoft is making a movie or TV show, the creative execution has to be top notch or else it can lead to the downfall of the series in question.
Analysis: Have previously released Xbox TV shows held up well?
The movies and TV shows that Xbox released have had their moments, but they haven’t been anything to write home about. Halo’s online miniseries, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, received good reviews overall and above-average reviews from IMDB users with a score of 6.9 / 10. The Halo Legends anime has also received generally positive reviews – although some have found it bizarre to mix the anime and the Halo franchise together, reviews were generally impressed. While these movies and TV shows are solid enough, they remain largely forgettable among Halo fans and arguably haven’t drawn non-fans of the series.
The next big test for Microsoft in this space will be this Halo TV show for Paramount Plus. Spencer is definitely following up on his claims by bringing in a top creative like Steven Spielberg to help with executive production on the show – hopefully that means Microsoft has a hit on its hands. Still, given his years in development hell, we’ll have to reserve our judgment until he gets here.