By asking fans to “Hunt The Truth,” 343 Industries (343i) and Microsoft are catering to the conspiracy theorist in each of us. And it’s really cool.
For those who aren’t up to speed about the recent events surrounding Halo 5: Guardians, The “Hunt The Truth” marketing campaign began on March 19 with this tweet by Frank O’Connor, the Halo Franchise Development Director at 343i:
— Frank O'Connor (@franklez) March 20, 2015
The tweet links to a tumblr page titled “HUNT THE TRUTH.” At the time, the page looked like the image below, containing a countdown and a mysterious image of a bullet engraved with the word “Traitor.”
The next day, Xbox’s YouTube channel posted a video of the same bullet, being shot from a sniper rifle into Master Chief’s mask.
It’s hard to see, but there are words on the bullet that aren’t visible to the naked eye due to the speed at which the bullet is spinning.
When the countdown on the “Hunt The Truth” tumblr ended, a new version of the site appeared, along with a new version of the above video. While the video was the same, it now had a sort of interactive slider that allowed viewers to watch the video frame-by-frame, revealing the other words on the bullet: SON, ABDUCTEE, VICTIM, ORPHAN, RECRUIT, SOLDIER, WARRIOR, ALLY, HERO, SAVIOR, and TRAITOR. You can play around with this here, or watch someone else do it here.
On March 22, the first episode of the “Hunt The Truth” audio logs was published. Titled “Episode 00: Primer,” the audio log is spoken from the perspective of the fictional journalist Benjamin Giraud, who was “hired to do an in-depth profile of the Master Chief.” Listen to it here:
On March 29th, the second episode (Episode 01: A Hairline Fracture) was released. In this episode Benjamin goes into some of the lore of the Halo universe. Listen to it here:
The same day, two new trailers were published on the Xbox YouTube channel. Each trailer is told from a different perspective – One from the side of Master Chief, titled “All Hail,” and another from the side of Spartan Locke, titled “The Cost” – and they’re both really interesting to watch.
Intriguing, right? The difference between the two videos immediately draws you in and makes you want to go out and, well, hunt for the truth.
On April 5th, another episode of the podcast was released. This one continues to go into some of Halo’s lore, investigating Chief’s background. Benjamin raises new questions as he attempts to answer old ones.
On April 12th, another episode of the podcast was released, continuing to delve into John’s past. This one ends on a cliffhanger.
And on April 19th came another episode. This one starts off where the last one picked up, following Benjamin as he’s called in for the incident. It ends on a cliffhanger like the last one.
UPDATE: Now that more Halo 5 information has been published, the rest of the Hunt The Truth podcasts can be found on the Hunt The Truth soundcloud, right here.
What a cool way to create a healthy, robust hype. This isn’t the first time Halo has used an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) to market their game– Halo 2 did it back in 2004 with “I Love Bees”– but it still feels like a very fresh, interesting, engaging form of advertisement. Plus, so far it’s been incredibly successful for Halo 5. This is clear through the last two videos’ YouTube views alone: The Master Chief ad has 1,700,000+ views, and the Spartan Locke ad tallies in at a whopping 4,300,000+ views.
By encouraging fans to dig deeper and think critically about the media they’re being presented with, Microsoft and 343i are also encouraging fans to be active participants in the Halo universe outside of just playing the game. And for those who aren’t already fans, “Hunt The Truth” is acting as a way to ease people into Halo, providing them with a comprehensive history of Halo lore that’s presented in a way that doesn’t talk down to those who know nothing about it.
Halo is a series that really needed this sort of marketing. While it already has a huge fanbase, it’s a game that, for those who haven’t played it, tends to get lost in the sea of RPGs and online multiplayer experiences.
Often when you think of Halo you don’t think of its lore or single player campaigns, but rather its online players and fanbase. The “Hunt The Truth” marketing campaign makes it clear to both fans and non-fans that halo isn’t just about shooting people and being badass – it also has a lot of rich history, complex story points, and interesting characters.
Halo has a lot to offer, and this interactive form of advertising showcases that beautifully.
Have any thoughts or other tidbits of information that I should add to this timeline? Comment below and let me know!