Dubai: Microsoft held the regional launch of its highly anticipated video game Halo 5: Guardians at Dubai Mall on Wednesday morning.

Amid a raft of Xbox related announcements, regional Xbox head Kerim Ozbakirci found himself in the unenviable position of simultaneously talking the game up while downplaying its overall importance to Xbox’s strategy.

Halo’s always been one of the premium games. Halo 5 is a great example for showing off the Xbox One’s capabilities — and the power of Xbox Live,” he said when asked directly about how critical the game’s success was to Xbox. “Having said that, it’s not the only game.”

Those titles include the recently released Forza 6 and the soon-to-be-released Rise of the Tomb Raider. “We are confident in what we have to release,” he added in an interview on the sidelines of the launch event.

Yet a glance at the Halo franchise’s figures underline its significance. Since the first Halo game was released on the original Xbox in 2001, the franchise has brought in $4.5 billion (Dh16.5 billion) worldwide, according to Microsoft. More than 65 million copies of the franchise’s 13 games have been sold, and gamers have spent a total of 6 billion hours playing them.

Digital series

It isn’t just games. Twelve of the franchise’s 15 novels have hit the New York Times best-seller list, the soundtrack of Halo 4 reached 50 in the US Billboard chart, there’s been a live-action digital series and the game’s also spawned a line of comic books. Then there’s the merchandising.

In addition to the single player campaign — playable by one person, or up to four via Xbox Live — the game features two multiplayer modes: a classic mode aimed at competitive play and professional esports, and a new Warzone mode played on large battlefields, up to four times the size of battlefields in previous releases, with up to 24 players in two teams.

Ozbakirci said he believed Microsoft had sufficient servers to cope with the expected demand of online play. “I’m quite confident it will run fine,” he said. “It’s robust.”

As Microsoft released the next wave of its Xbox One consoles, with 1Tb drives, Ozbakirci announced a reduction in price of the 500Gb models, down to Dh1,849 with the Kinect accessory and a bundled game, or Dh1349 for the console and game without the Kinect.

Next month Microsoft will being the process of making its back catalogue of Xbox 360 games compatible with the current console free of charge. The first batch of backwards compatibility will include 100 games.

Xbox One to get Windows 10 interface

Microsoft’s vision of a unified platform across devices will get a step closer on November 12 when the Xbox One takes on the look and feel of Windows 10.

Regional Xbox head Kerim Ozbakirci said the move would incorporate performance enhancements and new facilities.

“Windows 10 will bring a number of improvements,” he said. “With DirectX 12 it will be noticeably smoother and faster.”

Ozbakirci also commented on rumours Netflix would soon launch in the region. “We will have Netflix support when Netflix becomes available,” he said.