In a breathless release Wednesday, Microsoft alerts us to the fact that it will launch a public beta of the much-anticipated Halo 3 next spring on Xbox Live.
The release, which also touts such can't-miss holiday 2006 fare as a "stirring, 60-second Halo 3 teaser ad," is presumably geared towards giving Microsoft some PR during a week that is being dominated by press for its rivals, Sony and Nintendo.
It comes just hours before North American gamers will begin frothing at the mouth and lining up for the opportunity to buy a PlayStation 3--which launches at 12:01 a.m. EST Friday but is expected to be in very, very short supply--or a Wii, which launches at 12:01 a.m. EST Sunday.
Of course, that timing is just a coincidence, wink-wink, since Microsoft's release is innocently timed to the fifth anniversary of the release of the original Halo.
As Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of global marketing in Microsoft's interactive entertainment business unit, notes, "The Halo nation has a nearly insatiable desire. We hope a taste of advance Halo 3 gameplay satisfies some of their appetite as we count down to the game's launch later in 2007."
Bell is probably right. It's hard to imagine getting worked up over an ad, but if there's one ad that can achieve that effect, it probably is a Halo 3 ad. And if Microsoft is able to distract gamers' attention this week, of all weeks, them more power to them.