Most huge game releases have gone hand-in-hand with some extremely expensive marketing pushes. Web advertisements, mass emails, promotional goodies flying everywhere, and of course commercials are all part of the mix. A lot of the time it's all in-game footage, with maybe a few cheeky nerd jokes tossed in there. But Bungie has always done something different, for which they'll always be remembered. Looking back at Halo 3's Believe campaign, it's not hard to wonder why the franchise has such a strong following. It was staggering, beautifully crafted, and leagues beyond the typical gaming advertisements that had come before it.
Knowing that, the follow up to Believe was 'We Are ODST', and knowing that Halo: Reach will be the final game in the series (at least for the time being), it can only be expected that this final game will have with it an amazing send off. Much like the Superbowl, I'm almost more excited for the ads than I am for the game itself, which says a lot about how effective these commercials are. Almost everyone I know, gamer or otherwise is familiar with them one way or another. It's this kind of detail that makes their commercials a joy to watch, though not in the Old Spice sense. More of an independent film that you wished would really happen.
Even more noteworthy about Bungie's commercial line is how little in-game footage they contain. There's almost no gameplay to even base what kind of experience you'll have in-game, which is an unusual strategy that works to great effect. Though ODST failed (on some levels) to deliver the full experience that the commercials promised, the game also had much less to offer players than Reach does. With such a successful beta for Halo: Reach, I don't believe we'll be hitting the same issue.
The best part about a live marketing campaign is the amount of depth it brings to the story, before any gameplay has even occurred. Those religiously following the books, and little lore updates are well aware of what's happening. But on the same page, a lot of people don't really have the time to invest in looking at those things, which is where the live action commercials really come in handy. They set the stage for a storyline that a lot of people may not know about, and make viewers want to find out a little bit more. Just like how Beta is for Reach's multiplayer advertisement; a live action commercial would be for their single player.
Needless to say, whatever Bungie comes up with will no doubt be quite awesome. Regardless of your personal interest in the Halo series it's hard to imagine not enjoying their work on some level. It's a game series that's definitely garnered a very large fanbase, and as a whole has been very supportive of those customers. Knowing that this will be their last entry into the series for quite some time, I can't hope but speculate that they'll be releasing this with a pretty big bang. Sure all the viral stuff will come with it, the banners and the posters at your local GameStop. But I'm hoping for something a little more special, about as epic as Believe was only with a fond farewell in there too. I doubt Bungie will leave my faith misplaced.