Halo is a military science fiction video game and media franchise created by Bungie. The franchise is currently managed and developed by 343 Industries, and owned and published by Xbox Game Studios. The central focus of the franchise builds on the experiences of Master Chief, one of a group of super soldiers code-named Spartans, and his artificial intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana.
The original trilogy centers on an interstellar war between humanity and an alliance of aliens known as The Covenant. The Covenant, led by their religious leaders called the Prophets, worship an ancient civilization known as the Forerunners, who perished while defeating the parasitic Flood. The eponymous Halo Array are a group of immense, habitable and ring-shaped superweapons that were created by the Forerunners to destroy the Flood, but which the Covenant mistake for religious artifacts that, if activated, would transport them on a Great Journey to meet the Forerunners. They are similar to the Orbitals in Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, and to a lesser degree to author Larry Niven's Ringworld concept. The latest main game, Halo Infinite, released in 2021.
The games in the series are critically acclaimed, with the original considered the Xbox's "killer app". This led to the term "Halo killer" being used to describe console games that aspire, or are considered, to be better than Halo. Fueled by the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, and by marketing campaigns from publisher Microsoft, its sequels went on to record-breaking sales. By 2015, the games had sold over 65 million copies worldwide, with the games alone grossing almost $3.4 billion. As of February 2021, that figure has risen to 81 million copies. Halo has since become one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time. These strong sales led to the franchise's expansion to other media; the Halo Universe now spans multiple best-selling novels, graphic novels, comic books, short movies, animated movies and feature films, as well as other licensed products.