The new issue of Time magazine goes on sale next week, and the magazine’s cover will depict Bill Gates proudly holding up an Xbox 360 console. This will be the third time the head of Microsoft has featured on the front of the mag, very possibly a record of some sort.
Of most interest to games fans will be a phrase that has been doing the rounds on the internet this morning. Unsurprisingly, it confirms that there will be a third instalment of killer app Halo, despite rumours circulating around the release of Halo 2 that Bungie had no plans to produce a third game for the series. Given the relatively recent release of Halo 2, it was always unlikely that Halo 3 would be finished in time for the Xbox 360 launch. This is confirmed by Gates, but he is just as excited about when the game will be released: to coincide with the launch of Sony’s vaunted PS3, slated for a spring 2006 release!
If it all comes together, there’s every chance that this software release will have an impact on hardware sales. New consoles are especially vulnerable at launch, and a poor launch line-up can take the shine off a new console, no matter what its capabilities. And when Halo 2 was released, not only did it help to shift hardware units, it also saw the numbers of Xbox Live! online subscribers more than double. Halo is a strong franchise, keeping hardcore fans happy and becoming a household name in the mainstream at the same time – a difficult balancing act. But if we aren’t going to see a new Halo when the Xbox 360 launches, what are we going to see? We’ll update you as soon as anything is announced, perhaps at a certain games Expo taking place in Los Angeles this week.