Halo: Spartan Assault Verizon announcement

Halo: Spartan Assault will be a landmark game when it launches on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 later this month. It marks the first mobile entry in Microsoft’s Halo franchise, something fans have been clamoring for ever since Windows Phone 7 debuted back in 2010. While it took a long time for the game to actually be revealed to the world, the wait between the June announcement and Spartan Assault’s undisclosed July release date will be relatively short.

It turns out that some Windows Phone 8 users will need to wait a bit longer for the new Halo game than others, however. Today Microsoft and Verizon revealed that the Windows Phone 8 version of Spartan Assault will launch first on Verizon phones in the US before eventually becoming available to all domestic customers. This timed exclusivity does not affect countries outside of the US, nor does it affect the Windows 8 version of the game.

Verizon’s announcement

Halo: Spartan Assault Verizon announcement

The official announcement came through Verizon’s website. In a story titled “Halo: Spartan Assault coming to Windows Phone 8,” the subtitle clearly reads “First to Verizon Wireless.” In the body of the article itself, the exclusivity bombshell is almost casually mentioned:

Halo fans and new Spartans will soon be able to download “Halo: Spartan Assault” on their Windows Phone 8 smartphone, and Verizon Wireless customers will be the first ones able to do so in the U.S.”

The story goes on to mention which Verizon phones will be compatible with Spartan Assault:

“Halo: Spartan Assault” will be available for $6.99 on the Windows Phone App Store and will be playable on the Nokia Lumia 928, Nokia Lumia 822, Windows Phone 8X by HTC and Samsung ATIV Odyssey from Verizon Wireless.”

All of those devices have 1 GB of RAM, because that’s all Verizon carries. But we have confirmed with Microsoft that Spartan Assault will also be compatible with 512 MB Windows Phone 8 devices as well.

Patience is a virtue

Halo: Spartan Assault

So what does this all mean? Well, for one thing it shows Verizon’s support of their Windows Phone 8 devices and how much they want those phones to succeed. The US carrier’s lineup of devices is second only to AT&T’s. Verizon customers who play games will be happy (or at least not disappointed) by the announcement.

As for non-Verizon users who live in the US, the timed exclusivity IS sort of bad news. Microsoft would not confirm the duration of Spartan Assault’s exclusivity: it could be as little as a week or as long as a couple of months. I’m placing my bet on 3-4 weeks. International Windows Phone 8 users will not be affected by the Verizon exclusivity.

However, this announcement doesn’t mean that no Americans without a Verizon phone will be able to play Spartan Assault when it launches. Windows Phone Central has confirmed with Microsoft that the Windows 8 version will launch simultaneously with the Verizon and international Windows Phone 8 versions of the game. So if you don’t have a Verizon phone but do have a Surface or other Windows 8 device, you can still get the tablet or PC version right away.

The US hasn’t seen a carrier-specific Xbox Windows Phone game since ilomilo debuted for free to AT&T users back in holiday 2010. ilomilo later became available to everybody in January 2011. Halo: Spartan Assault will definitely not be free for Verizon users: they’ll pay $6.99, just like everybody else.

Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. 3 (amusingly enough, a clone based on the Halo console games) launched for free in India but at a price of $6.99 in the rest of the world. The Indian version was extremely buggy, however, and quickly got pulled from the Store. It’s a safe bet that Verizon’s US exclusive offering of the Windows Phone 8 version of Halo: Spartan Assault will not be plagued by similar problems.

via Phone Arena