Forward Unto Launch – How Microsoft’s “Forward Unto Dawn” Impacted Halo 4 Shoppers

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Image from: Halo4 / thetechstuff.com

Known by gamers everywhere, Microsoft Game Studios’ Halo franchise has been a fan favorite since Master Chief first took on the Covenant and Flood back in November 2001. On November 6, 2012, Microsoft launched its new title for the franchise, “Halo 4”. And just as Master Chief looks to conquer his new enemies (the Prometheans), Microsoft chose to conquer producing the 5-episode mini-series “Forward Unto Dawn”. Microsoft built fan anticipation for Halo 4 by posting a new episode of the live-action mini-series every week leading up to the title’s release date on November 6, 2012.

We wanted to put “Forward Unto Dawn” to the test and see if it was able to do more than hold people’s attention for 15 minutes. Did the mini-series have any impact on these viewers’ shopping experiences? We compared the shopping behaviors of episode viewers1 across major online game retailers2 from September-December 2012 with the behaviors of people who did not view the episodes1
Halo Pre-Launch Add to Cart Graph Viewers apparently liked what they saw, since they were significantly more likely to preorder Halo 4. Looking at the add-to-cart behavior for viewers and non-viewers, 84% of the viewer’s add-to-carts occurred before the November 6th launch, compared to just 40% of non-viewers add-to-carts happening before the launch3.
Halo Microsoft Store Add to Cart Graph Not only was Microsoft able to get viewers more interested in pre-ordering Halo 4, Microsoft was also able to maximize their engagement with the viewers and showed an increased proportion of viewers adding-to-cart on microsoftstore.com rather than the other retailers (22% of viewers added-to-cart on microsoftstore.com, compared to just 9% of non-viewers4).

However when looking to see if viewers were less likely to check out the other hot titles being released around the same time (Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassins Creed 3), we saw an identical proportion of viewers/non-viewers cross-shopping Halo 4 with those titles (around 30% of each).

Even though viewers were just as likely to express interest in the other newly released titles (probably due to the popularity of the titles and competitive nature of the industry) I would certainly consider Microsoft’s “Forward Unto Dawn” a success in influencing the purchasing behaviors of its viewers. In a shopping environment where people are increasing the amount of research done before considering a purchase, Microsoft was able to increase interest in purchasing before launch and able to drive more shoppers through Microsoft’s own shopping experience to steal market share away from the other competitive online retailers.

What did you think of “Forward Unto Dawn”? Should more game publishers follow suit to generate hype around their new releases? Let us know in the comments.

1. Studied viewers and non-viewers who fit under Compete’s “Gamer” behavioral category
2. Major retailers studied include Microsoft Store, Amazon, Gamestop, Walmart, Target, and BestBuy
3. Statistically different at the .001 significance level
4. Statistically different at the .001 significance level

About Matt Keeney:
Matt Keeney is an analyst in the Technology & Entertainment vertical at Compete. Matt is a graduate of Bentley University where he dual-majored in Marketing and Ethics with a minor in Mathematics. You can find Matt out on the field/court playing on Compete’s intramural sports teams or connect with him on LinkedIn.