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Steam may offer an unexpected new home for the first three Halo games

Halo 3

When you visit Valve Software’s Steam service, the digital distribution platform presents itself as a comprehensive, intuitive store front. That’s a huge boon for the success of Steam, but it belies all the hard work that goes into the service. For instance, every time a new game is added to Steam, the title must first be added to a massive database of available games – and for the most part publishers would like this addition to be as stealthy as possible, lest it overshadow their own internal plans for a dramatic announcement. Usually Valve is pretty good about keeping such things under wraps, but the most recent update to the Steam database includes a very surprising mention of the first three Halo titles.

Using a tool called “CDR,” Steam fans recently pulled down the contents of the service’s most recent games database update and discovered a number of new games that seem to be headed to the platform. Alongside the Halo games, the list includes titles like the indie platformer (and Xbox 360 exclusive) Fez, The King of Fighters XIII, and Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition. Have a look at the full roster: 

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There’s no word on when these games might appear on Steam and technically this isn’t a guarantee that it will happen, but it is the closest alternative to absolute certainty we might see, so we expect announcements for each of these titles to crop up in the near future. The Halo announcement is likely to be particularly hyped. After the above list was published the Steam database was rapidly updated to excise the Halo listings.

Normally any game appearing on Steam would not be seen as news – Steam is the biggest games-based digital distribution platform of our modern era, after all – but the Halo franchise is an exception. In the past Microsoft has never allowed a Halo game to be released on any platform that it doesn’t exert at least majority control over. The closest Microsoft has ever come to dropping a Halo game into the lawless wilderness would be the PC releases of the first two Halo titles, though with Microsoft’s dominance of the PC industry via its Windows operating system these games weren’t exactly beholden to the whims of other companies. 

Even more surprising is the listing for Halo 3. Prior to this database being leaked to the public by clever amateur hackers, there was no hint that Halo 3 might be headed to PCs. Its two predecessors did, and Halo 2’s PC iteration even boasts an active online community to this day (over seven years after its retail debut), yet Microsoft has stood by its decision not to offer Halo 3 to PC gamers. Perhaps it doesn’t see the value in a PC version, or it just wants the Halo franchise to be associated purely with the firm’s Xbox division. Whatever the reason Halo fans have long been upset that the only way to enjoy Halo 3 has been via the XBox 360.

In the past, games that appear in Steam database listings are generally close to release, so while this information can’t be seen as totally official just yet, we expect Microsoft and/or Valve to serve up a full announcement on the upcoming Halo trilogy releases in short order. Following the release of this news, Microsoft told Kotaku that “We currently do not have plans to release any ‘Halo‘ titles on Steam,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. The key word is, of course, “currently.”   

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