I am going to bring you up to speed, just in case you have been living under a rock for the past ten years. Halo is a gaming franchise for the Xbox 360, developed by Microsoft. This year is an election year, with November 6th slated to be Election Day. Funnily enough, the newest installment of the Halo series is going to hit shelves on November 6th as well.
Why is this important, and why should you care? If you couldn’t figure it out from reading this paragraph alone, either you don’t know anything about how your own nation’s government works or you don’t know anything about video games. Sadly, I am going to guess that it is the former. If you aren’t a complete waste of matter, then please skip the following two paragraphs.
Just to give you a sense of scale here: Halo 3 set the record for the highest grossing entertainment product within its first 24 hours (fun fact: the previous record holder was Halo 2). Regardless of personal opinion, the Halo franchise is a behemoth in today’s gaming industry. Halo 3 sold approximately 3.4 million copies on its first day. Have you crunched the numbers yet? Probably not because you are lazy! That is more than three times the population of Rhode Island. You can look that up later if you like.
The average presidential election sees a voter turnout in the mid to high 50th percentage. When Barack Obama competed for the Oval Office in 2008, a large part of his victory can be attributed to the commanding 66% lead he held among the age 18-30 demographics. Interestingly the voter turnout that year was 63% (some statistics will show a 57% turnout, but I found that many of these stats did not account for felons, as well as the physically/mentally incapable), this is the largest voter turnout since 1960.
Despite what many of my fellow Staten Islanders might jump down your throat to tell you, Barack Obama is in fact not an idiot. He knew that the “youth vote” could be vital and that is why a large part of his campaign was dedicated to getting people out there to vote in the first place. The downside of having the advantage in the youth vote is that these people are far less likely to vote because they are busy drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, pretending to study for exams, playing video games and generally just being useless to society. Thus it was (and will be) necessary for Obama to do everything in his power to get these people to vote.
I am hoping you see the connection by now. The release of Halo 4 is on the same day of presidential election. Obama’s victory during the last election had a lot to do with the 18 to 30 demographic. The obvious theory is that such a powerful cultural event could distract the youth vote (and let’s face it, they do get distracted easily), and hurt Obama’s chances of winning. This is where things get weird.
The rumor amongst the Internet community (take a lucky guess what age group dominates that world) is that this is all the work of a conspiracy by Microsoft to aid Mitt Romney. Normally, I would dismiss this as typical Internet banter but given the shocking evidence one has to admit that something isn’t quite “kosher.” A lot of work goes into picking a release date for a video game, Microsoft had to have known that November 6th is Election Day, it is not as if the corporation is run by a bunch of monkeys (somewhere a bunch of Sony/Nintendo fan-boys just snorted with laughter). On the other hand, in order to present a conspiracy theory one has to provide evidence that Microsoft would even be associated with Mitt Romney in the first place. And I am willing to bet my uncannily gorgeous backside that the two have zero affiliation with one another. Nothing could draw me away from such an assumption…unless of course someone had a photo of Mitt Romney being a presenter at a Microsoft event last October.
Okay, so maybe Mitt Romney and Microsoft do have some affiliations. In fact, Microsoft directly contributed $71,990 to Romney’s campaign between 2011 and 2012. If that isn’t a conspiracy then I don’t know what is! Oh wait, never mind, Microsoft also donated $289,088 to Obama’s campaign during the same time bracket. Microsoft must really suck at this whole “evil corporation conspiring with the government” thing…which is ironic, given how common a theme that is in video games these days.
On a more serious note, I would say that what Microsoft is pulling is not a political conspiracy but rather a publicity stunt. If the past decade has taught us anything it is that no publicity is bad publicity, even if it seems really bad. Microsoft is likely pulling this move to garner attention. It is quite possible they plan to change the date of release after they have gathered enough controversy (or not, they’ll make millions either way). Halo 3 is still amongst the most expensive ad campaigns ever launched; maybe Microsoft just wants to hype up their game without shelling out $40 million this time around. In either event you have to hand it to them, it takes guts to declare to the world that your game deserves the same spotlight as the presidential election.