It is unusual these days for a story about a fan-made project to have a happy ending, but that is exactly what has happened this week. While companies like Square Enix and Nintendo quickly end non-commercial fan-games and CBS and Paramount have gone on a spree ending Star Trek fan-films, Microsoft has taken a different approach. A Halo-inspired game, Installation 01, has received approval from both Microsoft and current Halo studio 343 Industries to continue developing their game.
A recently blog post from the game makers, following a call with company representatives, stated,
We are happy to announce that the outcome of the call was both incredibly informational and very positive! Through these interactions we have been ensured that Installation 01 is not under imminent legal threat, provided we remain non-commercial in nature and scope, and continue to follow Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules to the letter. We are now able to say with certainty that Installation 01 will never be accepting donations. We also will not be selling i01 or Halo related merchandise. This is to keep a respectful distance between us and Microsoft's intellectual property. It is also important to note that these rules and assurances from 343 are specific to Installation 01 as a project, and should not be interpreted to apply elsewhere. Through ongoing communication with 343 Industries we hope that we, as a fan project, can continue to be a positive driving force within the Halo community.
This is an approach that most studios and publishers would not be interested in attempting, but Microsoft seems perfectly willing to accept the reality that dedicated fans, who feel a connection to a franchise, might want to produce their own art that takes place in that world. Perhaps, if Microsoft is able to show either a lack of harm to the sales of future games, or even an increase, because of this project, then perhaps other companies will follow suit and leave fan-made projects alone.
Outside influences can expands the ideas of a universe in a way that the creators, or the people currently involved, never imaged. Seth MacFarlane says that he never imagined Brian and Stewie being friends, but now, because of the writer's room, it seems so obvious. This doesn't just happen in television, but videogames as well. It is possible that this fan-made game could influence the creativity of 343 Industries in a positive way. Let's hope that this is a happy ending for fandoms everywhere.