Xbox's Halo series may strike covenant with Showtime

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Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios (XES) may release its live-action version of Halo on traditional TV first before it delivers an interactive version to Xbox’s Web-connected base of 48 million gamers. According to a report in Variety, the XES series currently in development with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV may first be seen on Showtime, the U.S. pay cable channel.

The XES/Showtime deal is still being hammered out, Variety says, reportedly because of the unfamiliar challenges of developing content that works both as passive programming on a more traditional channel and interactive video fare on a gaming console.

Should Variety’s scoop from an unnamed source pan out, debuting Halo on Showtime presents a fascinating and risky gamble for Microsoft. On the one hand, having the show appear on a traditional TV channel first runs the risk of dampening gamers’ interest in the interactive series, once it arrives on Xbox. On the other hand, the gambit could build excitement for the Xbox interactive series: Viewers would know already know the TV-based story and want to check out the related interactive features when Halo does appear on their gaming platforms.

According to the XES Upfront event held in New York City last week, the Halo series is due to debut on Xbox later this year. If it does make it to Showtime first, Halo’s premiere will have to come soon.

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