The Halo series has been a staple of the Xbox brand since the very first console release. So why does it seem like Microsoft has thrown any and all support for the franchise away and what could this lack of support mean for Halo and Xbox moving forward?
Once upon a time, the Halo series was the face of the Xbox brand. With each new console, a brand new Halo title would be there to help drive sales shortly after. In the same way that Nintendo has the Mario and Zelda franchises and PlayStation once had Crash Bandicoot and others.
However, recent years and a clear mismanagement of talent has led to a giant downfall in regard to the importance and quality of Halo games. As someone who grew up eagerly anticipating each Halo release – even saving up to buy an Xbox One specifically for the next Halo game – the idea that Microsoft is now pouring less energy than ever into the franchise is concerning.
Not just for long-time Xbox and Halo fans like myself, but for those who wish to see the gaming space continue to evolve at a fast rate. For better or worse, the rivalry between PlayStation and Xbox has been a major driving force in the rapid growth of the industry. The competitive nature of the gaming space plays a key role in the great quality of games. Without Halo to push the FPS envelope on Microsoft’s side, what else does the brand have to offer?
Halo always had a key role in Xbox’s battle against PlayStation, until now
One can argue that the Xbox 360’s success was in large part due to the console having better exclusives for that generation of gaming. Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and all the original Gears of War trilogy all released on the one console. Despite originally being set to be a launch title for the Xbox Series S/X, Halo Infinite was delayed because of how unfinished the product was. 10 years ago, this never would have happened to a Halo game because of the developers leading the charge and the trust they’d earned from Microsoft.
What’s more, when Halo Infinite did eventually launch on December 8, 2021, it did so without mission replayability, Forge, and any sort of co-op campaign experience. These features were only added to the game a year after launch.
On the flip side, the PlayStation 4’s domination over the Xbox One was aided by great exclusives Sony brought out around this time. Spider-Man, God of War, and The Last of Us Part II just to name a few. So while the downfall of Halo spells disaster for Xbox, it also raises questions about the future of competition in the gaming space as a whole.
Microsoft has failed to back 343 since taking over Halo’s development from Bungie
Jason Schreier of Bloomberg first reported the news that Microsoft had chosen to lay off 10,000 staff on January 18. Many of the job cuts hit gaming studios Bethesda and 343 in particular, two of the company’s biggest game development teams.
“The scale is not yet clear, but Bloomberg has so far confirmed job cuts at Bethesda Game Studios (Starfield) and 343 Interactive (Halo). A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on how many employees of the gaming division were laid off.”
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Schreier later reported that Joe Staten, a key figure who helped push Halo Infinite across the finish line, is leaving the studio to rejoin Xbox Publishing. The reporter also confirmed on Twitter that, “it sounds like 343’s Halo Infinite campaign team got hit hard. In an email to staff, studio head Pierre Hintze wrote that ‘we’ve made the difficult decision to restructure elements of our team, which means some roles are being eliminated.’”
Halo Infinite was marketed as a reboot for the franchise. 343 were back and focused on telling the story of The Master Chief. It took years and tens of millions of dollars to see the light of day. The campaign almost serves as a retelling of the original. The open-world element to Halo is a fantastic step in the right direction and the first real positive change for the franchise since developer Bungie handed over the reins after Halo: Reach.
Infinite’s multiplayer is solid but the lack of content output for the feature had gamers – myself included – moving on to play other multiplayer games. Ones that were given more support and replayability.
All of that is well and good, but the biggest shame of the demise of Halo is that it isn’t through a lack of passion from developer 343. They have been trying, that much is clear. Rather, it boils down to a lack of faith and support from Microsoft.
Microsoft doesn’t even seem to care about the Halo TV show
The recent Halo TV series is another great example of just how little the tech company seems to care about what was once its marquee franchise. I barely managed to get through that TV show and to be completely honest, only did so out of love and respect for the games. If I was a casual viewer hoping for some great action and Sci-fi storytelling, I would have switched off after the first episode.
So with Microsoft seemingly showing less and less support for 343, the future of Halo Infinite – and the Halo series as a whole – is looking bleaker and bleaker as the months go on.
Here’s hoping that this once great franchise can be brought back to its former glory as ultimately, a fantastic Halo game also benefits Microsoft and Xbox. A fact that seems to have been forgotten as of late.
For all the latest Halo news and updates, be sure to check out Dexerto’s full coverage here.