Welcome to the New Economy Part One: Halo

The sequel to one of the greatest games ever released, Halo, has been released to the public. On the evening of September 8th, hordes of gamers clamoured around retail outlets looking to be one of the first to buy Halo 2 upon its midnight release.

For the faithful, they have been rewarded. It is a game of magnificent competition, with a plethora of new weapons and some very elegant levels and gameplay. New vehicles, new stages, new plots and of course the Covenant’s arrival on Earth.

“Never tell me I don’t look good in green!” Posted by Hello

But the most interesting point about Halo 2 is that it could very well take the record for the largest ever release in worldwide entertainment. Halo 2 may very well take more money than Titanic. Bungie Software, the publisher of the game, expect Halo 2 to take up to $US100m in it’s first full day of release.

Bungie started off as a small Chicago based Mac software developer, making the Marathon series. Marathon is regarded as the original (and some say still the best) first person shootemup game. Predating Doom, Duke Nukem and all of the others, Marathon innovated in that the plot of the game was equal to the game play itself. A brilliant, groundbreaking, innovative game (especially considering its 1994 release), Marathon was eseentially “touched up” and modified to become the juggernaut that is the Halo Series. Funnily enough, even ten years after the release of Marathon, people are still playing it, talking about it and dissecting the plot. Further, there are concerted efforts to keep Marathon “alive” by modifying it for newer operating systems and game consoles.

The original Marathon game – not bad for 1994! Posted by Hello

There are numerous references to Marathon in the Halo games, not the least being the weapons, uniforms and certain “in jokes” in the levels.

For more information on Marathon, please visit marathon.bungie.org or The Marathon Story.

For more info on Halo 2 – buy it!

UPDATE: The picture above is not from Marathon – it is most likely from Marathon Resurrection. Here is a screnshot from the original game:

Marathon – Pfhor Your Eyes Only Posted by Hello

A thought about the modular economy

I had a thought about the “modular economy”. Look at the entertainment industry, where large groups of totally outsourced skills come together to work on a project – no permanent infrastructure, largely modular, with almost granular participants – single people coming together on massive projects.

This sort of “network economy” or “modular economy” has been going on since the beginning of the film and music industries. The question being, how did other people in those industries actually find out who did the good work? The simple answer, CREDITS.

At the end of every film, on the liner notes of every CD, you see the names of the people who put it together, mainly so that they can get jobs as a result of their good work on that project.

So – what of the future? The current trend in outsourcing is that many companies are adopting this “network economy” framework. Some things, such as web design, are clearly credited on many company websites. But what of integrated back end outsourcing in industries such as call centres, logistics, payroll management and royalties?

We may well see an entire movement towards orgnisations decoupling their businesses into discrete units. Might we see a complete disaggregation of skill sets, following Michael E Porter’s “Value Chain” – where organisations adopt a mix of people, process and platforms (digital tools) to outsource vast swathes of their functions beyond the obvious ones.

What of builders? We often see signs on building sites which relate to the plumbers, electricians and tilers. What of permanent credits? Are we going to see the names of workers etched into concrete (literally)?

The irony of outsourcing (although a great thing), is that while it costs less to have a firm who does nothing but one task handling that task on behalf of your business, the thing is it could result in those firms having to adopt marketing and administration infrastructures just to get follow up business, thus lift the costs…