Consumers voice their “Halo” TV dissatisfaction
Updated: Mar 28
Just how strong can a consumer’s voice be, with regards to a product, and is it able to affect the company which stands behind it? And how does a company know what the collective opinion of its thousands of consumers is, enabling it to truly evaluate its product’s situation? Well, The case of the Halo video game franchise has some valuable lessons for producers and developers in the entertainment world, and in fact for all manufacturers of products or content.
On January 30th of this year, the Halo (television series) trailer appeared, announcing to the world that a new phase of the extremely popular franchise is about to begin. With a 9-episode first season television series, premiering March 24th on the Paramount + streaming service, the humans-aliens battle is all set to reach a new platform, 21 years after the game’s initial version.
Affogata gathered all conversations from the open web to understand how the public reacted to the new phase of this extremely popular franchise. After all, and as reported by February of 2021, all versions of the Halo franchise sold over 81 million copies worldwide. So what would be the effect of public opinions on the design-making and story-telling of Halo, not that it has become a television series? And how does it compare to the much-beloved game? While all reactions were based on what consumers received from the 2-minute trailer, the reaction level was so overwhelming and highly emotional, that it is up to the makers of the series to consider what to do with such data.
Affogata tracked the first two weeks of February, following consumer reactions to late January trailer exposure. The reaction peak was recorded on Feb. 1st, with 2,263 mentions, representing 20.57% of the whole of the two-week conversations. Overall, positive mentions focused on the series' design creativity and strong casting, while the negative ones brought up their dissatisfaction from the game and television series discrepancies.
Twitter registered 11,011 Halo mentions alone during this 14-days time period, with expectant fans praising the production design and the fact that their much-loved characters are now being turned into television stars for the first time. However, for every cheering fan, there was a 1.5 fan, on average, that carried a negative sentiment reaction over the narrative and character adaptation. It seems that the game's devoted fans were expecting a “same-same” approach, and therefore disappointed to see their story and characters evolve into “new creative liberties” that adaptations often go through. Leading all complaints were Master Chief’s voice and role as well as AI-generated Cortana’s character likeness and image. Some concern was also recorded over producers Bungie and 343 Studios’ decision to carry a major overhaul to the 21-years familiar video game storyline.
The Master Chief character replacement was quite interesting, though the fans were obviously frustrated with it regardless of such a decision. For 21 years, Steve Downes fulfilled the voice character of the masked Master Chief. Now it is said that fans would see his face literally for the first time in the series, but such a super-soldier can’t be 71 years old. So the reason why Steve Downes was replaced by a new guy, the unknown-to-the-franchise Pablo Schreiber, was in order to fit the character’s age more appropriately. For many fans, losing Steve Downes was unacceptable.
Making matters even worse for them was the way the Cortana character was dealt with. Halo fans reacted to live-action Cortana with harsh words, denoting her lack of interactively blue transparent skin color, and Cortana's new design controversy did not end the fans' new miseries. About a ⅙ of all negative mentions were unhappy with the upcoming television series plot, which based on the trailer, would deviate tremendously from the video game storyline. Fans were also disappointed with some of the background production “props”’ such as the Chevy Tahoe and the AK-47.
Not content with such complaints, some commentators even advised the Halo creators to learn from another “animated-to-a-live-transformation” that happened recently. Back in 2019, the Sonic the hedgehog controversy and redesign erupted, causing Paramount to act upon the fans’ wishes. In the end, Sonic was getting the makeover fans have demanded. It would be very interesting to see if Paramount + and the Halo production team will incorporate some or all of the changes that the fans are demanding.
One factor not acting in favor of the televised Halo is the fairly short amount of time between the trailer release and the series launch. While the “Sonic” situation had more than half a year to do the fixing, there are only 7 weeks between the Halo trailer release and the series launch date. Adding to all that was the recent announcement of Sony buying Bungee, the creator of Halo. Will Halo get a television makeover, or what fans saw in the trailer will prevail once the series airs? It still remains to be seen.
Affogata keeps tracking customer feedback in order to analyze their millions of data points, allowing companies to transform such data into actionable insights. Combining quantitative and qualitative data and structuring huge amounts of real-time comments and conversations, Affogata enables production companies to better align their products with what customers want and need. In the case of the new series Halo, the fans have stated their concerns about the video-to-television transformation. It is up to the producers now to evaluate what the consumers want to decide whether to act upon such feedback or to continue with their televised version as planned.