Halo Infinite courts controversy with an ongoing emphasis on live service
How do you solve a problem like Halo Infinite?
343 Industries can’t make fans happy. The developers behind Halo Infinite have come under fire following a series of updates on the game that feel ... lacking. The most recent developer update on YouTube has just under 30,000 dislikes — nearly three times the amount of likes on the video.
As the one-year anniversary of Halo Infinite’s release approaches, the prioritization of a live service game model over the features that are essential to a traditional Halo experience has left fans questioning the future of Xbox’s most iconic franchise.
What happened? — On September 1, 2022, the official Halo YouTube account posted a developer update for the month that saw 343 Industries Head of Creative Joseph Staten and Head of Halo Infinite Live Service Sean Baron discussing the roadmap for the game’s upcoming season.
Baron stated that for the live service team the most important goal is “achieving seasonality” which means getting players more of what they want and getting it to them faster and more consistently. But more notable than the features that are being added in the not-so-distant future are the ones that will never come to Halo Infinite.
Despite promising that a split-screen campaign co-op would be a part of Halo Infinite, Staten announced the “difficult decision” to not ship this mode. Instead, resources will be focused on supporting the live service model and new game modes for multiplayer.
One of the most demanded multiplayer modes for Infinite has been Forge, a franchise staple that allows players to create their own game modes and maps to play on. Forge did not launch with Infinite, and the latest roadmap says the mode will be in beta from November 7, 2022, through March 7, 2023.
Why fans are mad — “343 Industries needs to go,” proclaims YouTuber Casanova Creed in a video posted the same day as the September update: “They have had four chances to bring us Halo ... and every single time, they fucked up.”
This sentiment is rampant throughout the Halo fandom following the update video. An article from Tom’s Guide declares “343 Industries can no longer be trusted with Halo.” As of this article’s publishing, the developer update has over three times the number of dislikes as it does likes, a clear indicator of the dissatisfaction of Halo fans with the state of Infinite.
A lack of content updates and the omission of some of Halo’s most iconic game modes and features have left fans feeling like Infinite is diverging from the franchise. Both split-screen co-op and Forge are some of the defining aspects of the Halo franchise, and without them, all that Infinite is in its current state is a struggling live service multiplayer game — albeit one with an excellent albeit far too short story campaign.
Baron's promises of bringing players what they want feel entirely at odds with the actions of 343.
The Inverse Analysis — Halo Infinite is a good game. At least, it was upon release. The story felt like a return to form for the franchise and the open world was a fresh addition that breathed life into a franchise that had been struggling to find its footing ever since 343 took over development from Bungie.
But Halo has always been known for its multiplayer scene. So many memories of Halo are of swinging energy swords at friends and launching vehicles off ramps. Halo’s multiplayer feels chaotic and fun. The most successful first-person shooters currently out are battle royales like Fortnite or team shooters like Valorant — but they are all live service games.
Halo Infinite’s attempts to fit inside of a live service model have failed miserably due to the mishandling of content updates and new game modes from 343. The battle pass, one of the most standard features of a live service game, didn’t even work properly at launch. Despite rave reviews at launch (we gave it a 10/10), the passing of a year has not been kind to Halo Infinite. Whether a new developer needs to take over the franchise or it needs to abandon the live service model, one thing is clear: Something needs to change. But will things pivot in the right direction?