So what's the most risk free thing Microsoft could do? Release a "standard" multiplayer Halo experience, that already has an audience in MCC? And already proved itself in Halo 5? Or take a Halo game, chop it up into pieces, release them over time and hope the player base will stick around?Do you think only new IP’s and experimental games think about risk?
Not really, when AAAA budgets started to become a thing it is natural business people that were already looking to transition to episodic content (which makes sense for subscriptions oriented business models) tried to maximise what new kind of streams would bring them. If people accept and welcome the game getting regular updates / new content they may accept less content at launch and I can reduce the amount of content I develop without customer feedback. Call it agile, call it lowering your risk, etc…
It seems to me the episodic model involves *more* risk, because it's not been done before and risks alienating the player base, especially if development timelines slip. The episodic model saves up front cost and allows for more flexibility, but risks limiting growth in player numbers.
Now, I agree there is a question of how much content a "standard" title should have and maybe this has been continually going down over time. And yes Microsoft will have their own "budget" as to how much they are prepared to spend. But this comes back to the development issue. Do you think it should take 6+ years to release 10 multiplayer maps and some multiplayer modes that for the most part amount to DM,TDM and CTF? Are we saying Halo is the "experimental" title launching with a slimmed down multiplayer, where a full Halo game would have been expected to take 10+ years in development? Or could it be that the reduced size of Infinite's multiplayer has something to do with the development process and what 343 were able to achieve in what by all accounts is *already* an extended development cycle?
I think it is a little disingenuous to point to Infinite's content and go "see, this is what we should expect from a GaaS title", when Microsoft already gave the team the development time of 3 Call of Duty's. Is it so inconceivable that in an alternate universe, Halo Infinite could have been "Halo 5" with a new sandbox and plans not to stop at the 11th content update this time?