'Halo' game franchise coming to Microsoft's Windows Phone this summer

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Halo, the wildly popular first-person shooter franchise first launched on Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox gaming platform in 2001, is finally expanding to its Windows Phone mobile operating system this summer.

Halo: Spartan Assault, a single-player title priced at $6.99, will roll out exclusively to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 in July and is the first release in the Halo franchise developed for touchscreen interactions. The game, set in the years between Halo 3 and Halo 4, encompasses 25 missions as well as weekly challenges, leaderboards and more than 40 in-game achievements and medals. Microsoft also will offer in-app purchases like weapons, armor and abilities.

"Playing Spartan Assault can earn you experience points and unlock new achievements and emblems for your Halo 4 Spartan," notes Microsoft editor Michael Stroh. "Another great thing about Halo: Spartan Assault is that it's designed to work hand-in-hand with Windows 8. If you've played Skulls of the Shogun, the cross-platform Xbox hit released this year, you know what I mean: You'll be able to pause Halo: Spartan Assault on the phone and pick up where you left off on your PC or tablet."

Halo was created by Bungie and is now managed by 343 Industries and owned by Microsoft Studios. The series depicts an interstellar war pitting humanity against a theocratic alliance of aliens known as the Covenant. The games have sold more than 50 million copies worldwide, grossing almost $3.4 billion.

Fan enthusiasm for the Halo franchise could attract some gamers to the Windows Phone platform, which has struggled to build up a catalog of mobile applications and games on par with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. After looking at the top 50 free and top 50 paid apps featured in the U.S. outposts of Apple's App Store and Google Play based on their aggregated rankings over the first 20 days of May 2013, research firm Canalys reported that Microsoft's Windows Phone Store offers only 16 of the top 50 free iOS applications and 14 of the top 50 paid, along with 22 of the top 50 free Android apps and 13 of the top 50 paid.

For more:
- read this Windows Phone Blog post

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