Halo Infinite players are aflutter over recent cosmetic leaks, as data-miners have uncovered a total of 88 bundles that’ll come to the game’s multiplayer store at some point in the future. While the pricing for each bundle has not been revealed, napkin math suggests it could cost big money to purchase everything that’s included via the game’s microtransactions. Yet why has this seemingly upset the fan base when purchasable cosmetics is the core revenue component in other free-to-play games like Fortnite and Apex Legends?
What happened — Halo fan communities were set ablaze early Monday morning when Reddit user ReedHay19 posted an image of every store bundle currently in the game’s files. As expected, the images included a wide assortment of skins tied to weapon shaders, vehicle shaders, armor packs, charms, and more.
How the community responded — From our perspective, this is not vastly different from anything we’ve seen in free-to-play multiplayer efforts like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, or Apex Legends, but that similarity hasn’t stopped the community from feeling salty about the implementation.
Reddit's samurai1226 did some quick calculations, basing the projected price of each bundle on items that currently exist in the store today. The user deduced that, if diehard Spartans were to buy everything unearthed in this leak, it would cost well over $1,000. Especially for those who intend to pay $60 for the game’s single-player campaign, it seems easy to understand why there might be some sticker shock associated with the number. The Reddit post has received almost 26,000 upvotes and many of the nearly 6,000 comments express some form of disapproval.
Why Halo Infinite emphasizes paid cosmetics — Such a heavy lean on paid cosmetics partially contradicts statements made by Halo Infinite's developers at 343 Industries during recent multiplayer showcases. “We’re coming at this from a player-first mentality,” one developer assured, “all of these rewards are single-source, so you’re never going to be confused about where things come from. If you can unlock something from the battle pass, we’re not going to let any other player circumvent that by purchasing it out of the storefront.” Another developer adds that “a lot of our stuff is unlocked through playing the game and only through playing the game.”
While none of these statements are expressly false, they might come off as hollow when considering just how much emphasis 343 seems to have placed in the paid cosmetic bucket. With Reach armor pieces for Carter, Emile, and Jorge spotted amongst the data-mine, it’s starting to feel like the game’s best content has to be bought instead of earned. Cosmetics for those suits are included in the battle pass, but you can reportedly only wear them if you buy the full suit later.
And there’s no saving grace when it comes to the campaign. There are reportedly no multiplayer armor sets included as rewards for playing through the offline portion. In other words, despite Halo Infinite’s solid gameplay, some of its best-looking cosmetics will cost you. With Infinite’s challenge-based battle pass concept, even some of those freebies may come with a huge amount of grind.
This shouldn’t be surprising — Why the game’s fan base is so surprised that this is how the system is going to work? I’m by no means defending the practice of cool cosmetics costing real-world money, but Halo Infinite is a free-to-play multiplayer game operating from a mentality similar to its contemporaries. The game is free, so developer 343 Industries and publisher Microsoft intend to make up for that development cost by selling as many skins as they can possibly get away with.
And that pressure to recoup those creative funds has probably only grown in recent months. Remember back in April when Microsoft removed the Xbox Live Gold requirement for free-to-play titles? Now that the publisher isn't accruing subscription money from a large chunk of Halo Infinite’s player base, that probably creates a financial void that needs filling.
While I’d love for more of the best cosmetics to be free, it’s just hard to justify it given the high caliber of everything else we’ve seen from this game even in its beta state. Yes, the battle pass is grindy, but 343 has already made modest improvements with promises to do more. Beyond that isolated criticism, you’re left with is an incredibly fun arena shooter that is quite polished for something in a “beta” state. While many other free multiplayer games may have buckled under the immense server pressure of the stealth launch, Halo Infinite kept fans online and playing with little to no lag. Even the most disappointed of Halo fans likely can’t deny their time with the game has been fun thus far.
The bottom line? Fun costs money.
These paid cosmetics are totally optional — Microsoft and 343 aren’t forcing anybody to pay more money than they personally elect to pay to enjoy Halo Infinite multiplayer. That sticker price may estimate a $1,000 price tag for everything, but the expectation isn’t that you’re going to purchase every single one. Do you know anyone who’s bought every premium skin in Fortnite or Apex? I expect not, so adding up the costs to get that number isn’t based on a real-world scenario.
If you want to pay a few bucks on some armor, you can. But there’s no pressure to buy it. Nothing tied to gameplay is locked behind a paywall. There are no time-based locks that track the hours you play. And, if you find these paid items so detestable, just look away from the screen for five seconds before the start of a match. This is a largely first-person experience, so why spend money on a skin you’ll barely see if it makes you upset? You may be mad, but maybe it’s because these items aren’t meant to attract you.
The Inverse Analysis — Halo Infinite is by no means a faultless experience. Its battle pass could use less grind, and there are still some game-breaking glitches that need fixing. However, it’s still a free game. If you want it to remain free, then somebody’s going to have to fund your fun. That’s how it is with most other games in the genre, so why are you mad or surprised about this particular one?
Instead, why not spend some time grinding for the Samurai armor that’s about to go live? Did I mention that every cosmetic in the event is unlocked for free through gameplay? Digital storefronts always look gross when laid out in a data-mine like the one above, but, as far as Halo Infinite’s is concerned, there’s nothing too egregious in its microtransactions.