343 was given a valuable piece of marketing information in the implementation of the Reach Team Slayer title update. The TU update was designed to reduce the effectiveness of armor lock and invisibility among other things and while highly skilled purist hailed it as a great improvement because it reduced the effectiveness of the less skilled players that used special abilities the segment of players that Team slayer served did not see it that way. When the refinements were offered the on line players of the Team Slayer format clearly rejected the change. The rejection was so dramatic that the administrators said that they were blown away to use their own verbiage by the response. Even with the implementation of bonus points of various forms designed to improve the participation rates Super Slayer only pulled about 10% of the head count that the Classic Team Slayer produced on a regular basis.
Halo 4s creators having every good intention of improving the game obviously listened to some excellent first person shooters advice during the development cycle. Universal complaints from outstanding players were addressed. Great on line players gravitate to halo platforms that emphasize sniper weapons, head shot kills with DMRS etc and resent the use of special abilities and super weapons that new players and those of moderate skill levels can use to partially compensate for their lack of professionalism.
Halo 4 has implemented changes that are designed to favor behaviors that skilled players prefer. Weapons are given in the form of ordinance drops as rewards for kills and weapon show up at random fixed points. There are plenty of new and interesting weapons but items preferred by the new or casual players while not eliminated outright are dramatically less effective or much harder to come by.
We now have the irrational battlefield assumption that grenades cant be picked up off the ground from fallen soldiers without a special ability, jet packs that don't really fly anymore, invisibility that isn't really invisible when promethean vision is already a highly effective counter measure, plasma pistols that drain very quickly when powered up effectively making the noob combo harder to pull off, needlers that only fire about 3 times before they are empty etc and it all has a net result that favors the highly skilled players in EVERY play format. The problem with all this is Halo needs to serve multiple market segments. It needs to attract new players, retain casual players that like the game but don't have 30 hours a week to devote to video games and hard core gamers. The best way to do this by offering pro, snipers, swat and arena to those with plenty of time to devote to the art without upsetting play formats that serve the new and numerous casual players.
In the end what I think or any of the other guys on this forum think is immaterial. The extent to which Halo serves or fails to serve important market segments is the extent to which Halo will succeed or fail longer term. In marketing the initial boost of sales called an inaugural sales spike that appears when an anticipated product hits the market gives the surface impression that its doing well but the retention rate is everything. When you look at the online populations for Reach after being out two years and then look at how fast Halo 4s online player count is dropping its likely that Reach is or was a stronger game. In fact if you superimpose the deterioration curve of the previous Halo issues on where Halo 4 is now then its going to fall to a baseline way short of Reach. This IS a problem. I hope that when 343 works on Halo 5 they don't forget the marketing lessons that the Reach TU update should have brought home.
Make no mistake about it the Noob is A key to any games success because they are the growth segment.