Halo Creator Ready For Rivalry With The Biggest Show On Television

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer thinks Halo's second season can compete directly with HBO's The Last of Us.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

halo tv series

TV shows and networks have competed since TV began, and in the streaming era, rivalries are more fierce than ever. Halo was the most viewed series on Paramount+ in 2022, but the show was a letdown for many fans of the video games the show is based on. In an interview with IGN, CEO of Microsoft Gaming and Xbox head Phil Spencer said he believes the second season of Halo can reach the same level of quality and acclaim as HBO’s The Last of Us.

“I want the best for everything that we work on, Halo television series included,” Spencer told IGN. With regards to whether or not Xbox should hold its adaptation standards to that of The Last of Us, Spencer said, “Absolutely.”

Spencer praised HBO’s The Last of Us, saying the series had a strong foundation coming from the excellent narrative work done by The Last of Us video game creator Neil Druckmann and his team at Naughty Dog Studios. He also lauded Druckmann for the writer’s involvement in the HBO adaptation. Spencer isn’t the only one impressed by HBO’s The Last of Us; the series has won the hearts of fans and critics alike.

Only three episodes into its first season, The Last of Us has already been renewed for another. The show has garnered praise as a standalone work, but is also being regarded as one of the greatest video game adaptations of all time. Paramount+’s Halo series, on the other, has not been so lucky.

Halo received mostly positive reviews from critics in its first season, but fans were more difficult to please. After 20 years of Halo games and a lengthy stay in development limbo, the show had a lot to live up to. It delivered a number of controversial moments that deviated from the show’s source material, sparking significant backlash from its dedicated fanbase; this is in contrast to the widely praised deviations The Last of Us adaptation has made.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us

The built-in audience that comes with an adaptation is a blessing and a curse. Brand recognition and a devout following made Halo the top show of the year for Paramount+, despite its mixed reception. On the other hand, fans loyal to source material can be difficult to please as the experience is translated from one medium to another.

Video game adaptations are notorious for failing to capture what made the source material special. The Last of Us video game is a cinematic achievement in its own right, which is the foundation Phil Spencer referred to. Its tight, emphasized narrative lends it to cinematic storytelling, while Halo must contend with bringing to the screen a sprawling story and lore that was built on gameplay.

The rich world of the Halo franchise affords the series many opportunities, and as the show progresses, perhaps it will capitalize on those opportunities in ways more pleasing to its fans. The Last of Us has raised the bar for not only Halo, but all video game adaptations. Though games may vary widely in tone and subject matter, the mark of quality that The Last of Us is achieving may make it the new standard for video game movies and shows moving forward.

As these two high profile video game adaptations continue, the team in the Halo writers room will have to be true Spartans in order to compete. Fans can wish them both good luck, and may the best adaptation win.