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Nadella threw his first attempt to former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. When Valle said he could do better, the tech executive called on “Master Chief” and other characters from Microsoft-owned Xbox Game Studios’ popular “Halo” video game series.
With fans unable to attend MLB games this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mariners implemented the socially distant virtual first pitch to bring a sense of normalcy to home games. The team has also placed fan cutouts in the stands at their home stadium, T-Mobile Park.
“Halo” is one of the top-selling video game franchises of all time. “Halo Infinite,” the next entry in the series, was expected to be a launch title when Microsoft released its Xbox Series X video game console later this year. However, Microsoft announced in August that the game’s release would be delayed until 2021.
Nadella’s virtual appearance occurred one day before Microsoft unveiled its acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of prominent video game publisher Bethesda Game Studios, for $7.5 billion in cash. The deal marked the biggest video game-related acquisition in Microsoft’s history and is expected to bolster the Xbox Series X’s product lineup in the coming years.