We heard about it for months: Machinima was going to spend a ton of money to get a Halo 4 web series/video game tie-in after a round of funding, led by Google, rewarded the channel with $35 million to spend awhile back. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is an ambitious project, one that many hope will lead the way into online video's graduation to the big time, that it's draw will lead advertisers having faith in video as a respectable medium once and for all. It's the classic you've-got-to-spend-money-to-make-money scenario, and Machinima is bringing a big tent-pole web series to show that online video is here to stay.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Web Series
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn debuted last week on Friday, October 5. There will be 5 episodes leading up to the November 6 release of the new game. You want to talk about tent-pole programming? This is as perfect as it gets for video, and video games. Forward Unto Dawn will capitalize on the excitement generated by the game's release, giving something fans to watch while they wait. The video game itself, not really needing much to help it because it's a huge franchise around the world, still gets a great amount of buzz, and maybe a few more pre-orders.
Let's take a look at episode 1:
Raking in 2.8 million views since its debut, I'd say it got people excited. What we have here is your classic Top Gun-style set-up: we have a cadet named Thomas Lasky (Tom Green) who has a family legacy to protect, and he's probably got skills that he hasn't tapped into yet. Decidedly not Top Gun is that he doesn't seem to want to use them: he tries to find peaceful solutions for any war scenario. He's not too popular but it looks like he has two very strong women who want him to succeed: his love interest and fellow cadet Chyler (Anna Popplewell from The Chronicles of Narnia) and superior officer Mehaffey (Ayelet Zurer).
We go on to episode 2, which was released today and begins the process of getting Lasky to think differently about war:
This series continues the promise that Machinima has been offering over the last year. They've stepped up the production values for web series, making them almost indistinguishable from anything you can watch on TV. The difference is the episode length is smaller and there are no commercial breaks. The production value, however, is fantastic. It will be interesting to see how this series performs as it gets closer to the game release. Web series tend to lose a chunk of their lead-in audience, but with the game's release getting closer, it might have a different effect. Either way, this is online video continuing to grow and get better.