"Halo is somewhat unique in that it has such a heavy character and story base to it. I think it's one of the real strengths," he told Gamespot.
"People know the characters' names in the franchise."
They might know the characters names, but is that the same thing as actually caring about them, and being emotionally invested in them? People know Pac-Man's name, and Q*Bert's name, and Super Meat Boy's name too.
Spencer continues: "They know who Master Chief is. They know who Cortana is. It's not always true of other shooting franchises that you have that same connection to the characters in the story, and that there's a consistency and a connective tissue between the games.
"It's a franchise and an IP I expect to be around 20 years from now, much the same way Star Wars and Spider-Man and other things are."
Shoot me down if you must, but if Halo is around for decades to come, it won't be because of any richly-realised cast of characters...
Does anyone seriously play Halo for the characters or story? Isn't Master Chief just a cypher, a characterless, deliberately faceless, avatar. He could be anyone under that helmet - black, white, asian... even female. Master Chief is useful because he's an iconic character design - not an iconic personality.
THE FUTURE IS STERILE
In fact, I've always found the Halo universe to be weirdly sterile. It has felt constistent and believable within its own rules and aesthetics, but there's a coldness to it. Any emotion I've ever felt while playing the game was more to do with, say, the breathtaking landscape vistas the game offers, never in the ongoing story, or my investment in it.
Admittedly, it's rare for me to feel connected to any games character. The Last of Us - and Left Behind - both managed it, and Life is Strange had a few moments where I found myself wanting to know where the story was going (although it'd be a lie if I said I actually gave a fig about the characters' fates). But beyond that? Hardly ever.
Clearly Microsoft - and Bungie before it - is protective over the Halo brand. They've been famously controlling when it comes to the use of Master Chief in movies, and TV shows. Unfortunately, if there's something they're seeing in the character, something more beyond him being a Type-A, battle-ravaged, shoot 'em up man, then I don't feel it comes across in the game.
The storytelling might strive to be original, but it's rote, full of cliches and stereotypes, with achingly generic alien adversaries. What's more... I felt a connection with The Last of Us because the relationships, the characters, had humanity and soul. The relationship between Master Chief and his holographic assistant Cortana is - in the most literal sense - lacking humanity.
I can't see a road in there for me to connect in the way that Spencer seems to think players do. Master Chief is a gaming icon, but I've never got a sense of who he is. Or who his holographic girlfriend Cortana might be beyond being a needlessly large-breasted search engine (imagine Google's branding team sitting around and deciding to put lady nipples in the O's of their new logo - and then try to argue that the video game industry isn't still mired in misogyny).
I'm not saying the lack of character in Halo is a bad thing necessarily.
I mean, I do feel that they place more emphasis on the story than it deserves - it isn't anywhere near as interesting as Spencer and company seem to think, and is almost embarrassing in its efforts to show us how epic everything is - but that's ok, because Master Chief works inspite of it.
It's often the case in popular fiction that the main character is blander than those he's surrounded by (arguably, in Halo everyone's bland). Harry Potter, Luke Skywalk... they're not as interesting as, say, Han Solo, or Chewbacca, or Ron or Hermione. Their personalities are dialled down, which makes them our avatar, our vehicle to live out our fantasy.
And maybe that's what Master Chief needs - a Ron or a Chewbacca. Someone whose fate I can learn to care about, so I'm not just sighing at abstract and impersonal threats to the universe.
DOCTOR WHO CARES?
Actually, I watched the first ep of the new run of Doctor Who at the weekend, and came away - as I have done with the last few series - feeling something was lacking. I love Capaldi's interpretation of the character, and I love Moffat's wealth of ideas and storytelling, so it took me a while to realise what wasn't sitting right.
And then it hit me. The way Stephen Moffat writes all women - typically, the Doctor's assistant is a young woman, our audience identification figure - is identical. Good, bad, evil, misguided... they're all snarky, and sarcastic, and spout one-liners, and flirt relentlessly. They don't come across as real. They're super-heroes, all acid and steel.
His predecessor, Russell T Davies, knew the importance of grounding stories in the real world of chips, telly, and family dinners. The destruction of the universe is a threat that's utterly impersonal and abstract. I need a Rose Tyler or Donna Noble to ground the action in the familiar. And that - if you're going to make us care about Master Chief and Cortana - is what Halo needs too. If it even matters in an action game.
Who knows though... maybe things will be different in Halo: Guardians. Maybe we'll finally get a sense of what drives Master Chief, what haunts him, who he is, how he'd react in any given situation, and see him sitting down with a bowl of soup to watch Strictly Come Dancing.
Or maybe we won't - and that's fine. But don't delude yourself, Microsoft, that we care about him.
What do you think about Halo's characters? Do you play games for the characters? Contribute your opinion in the comments below!