Matt Booty, boss at Xbox Game Studios, admits that the launch for Halo Infinite could have been better, comparing the game’s release to “the classic runner’s mistake of kind of tripping and stumbling as you come across the finish line.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Friends Per Second podcast, Booty acknowledged successes and failures in the launch of Halo Infinite. Booty praised the Halo team for putting in the hard work to launch successfully even with the difficulties put in place by the covid pandemic, but also acknowledged how post-launch support was a disappointment. While Infinite launched with a splash (and we rated the game’s single-player and multi-player modules highly) last December, peaking at about 20 million players, it’s since been plagued with disappointing fumbles.
“As is apparent these days with a game like Halo Infinite, shipping a game is just the beginning, there’s got to be a plan for content sustain, there’s got to be a plan for regular continuing engagement and we fell short on the plan on that.”
The player-driven creative engine, Forge Mode, has hit months of delays, only recently entering open beta more than half a year after originally promised, and split-screen coop, a long-standing Halo franchise staple, was eventually shelved. The first versions of achievement-driven battle pass advancement felt unsatisfying and occasionally almost punitive, and while there have been improvements, the restrictive armor customization at the start was pretty disappointing.
Booty says that Xbox and 343 are intent on turning things around though. “We have really retrenched, we have got some changes in how the team is set up,” continued the Xbox boss on Halo Infinite. “We’ve got some changes in leadership and we’ve just got to really get refocused on around that sustained content plan and making sure that we’re bringing a regular update of content for players […] Our focus right now is on quality of life for the game and getting on a regular cadence of content.”
Can they deliver? The Winter Update arrives on November 8, bringing with it some much requested features such as campaign co-op and the open beta of Forge, plus a new battle pass and more maps for the multiplayer, and other quality of life improvements.
Honestly, while I’d been bullish about Halo Infinite, it’s sort of dropped off my gaming radar for months. A general atmosphere of gloom surrounds the game, even though Season 2: Lone Wolves introduced some cool takes on a mini-Battle Royale, and some interesting slivers of new story content. The Winter Update is another chance for 343 to breathe new life into Infinite, and I’m hoping they can resuscitate what is still a really sharp multiplayer shooter. We’ll see what changes the Winter Update brings, and whether it really can invigorate the game till the arrival of Infinite’s third season in March 2023.
Halo Infinite is available on the Microsoft Store for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. The multiplayer component of the game is free-to-play for everyone, even people who don’t have Xbox Game Pass or PC Game Pass. Halo Infinite is also available on Steam.