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Forbes: Does Microsoft Need To Give 'Halo' To Someone Besides 343?

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

Halo is currently trending with a hundred thousand mentions on Twitter, and that’s…not the best of news. Most of the conversation online right now is about the dismal roadmap that 343 put out about Halo Infinite’s second season, which will last another six months, just like season 1, with relatively minimal content doled out over that period. Features fans were hoping Infinite would launch with are now “targeted” for late August, while others (split-screen co-op) don’t have dates at all.

This has raised broader questions about Halo in general, and how 343 Industries has handled Halo on behalf of Microsoft since they took it over from Bungie after Halo Reach. That was an unusual split, where Bungie left Microsoft, leaving the Halo IP behind, and published Destiny with Activision. Now, Bungie has been purchased by Sony with Destiny 2 one of the biggest live service games on the market. And while a lot of people played Halo Infinite, the ongoing state of the game and the franchise as a whole is being debated.

A lot of this is subjective, but I don’t think you will find all that many Halo fans that prefer 343’s tenure to Bungie’s, for one reason or another. Generally speaking, the conversation about 343’s Halo installments has been:

Halo 4 – Had a fairly decent campaign, but tried to COD-ify its multiplayer in a way that did not work for traditional Halo players at all.

Halo 5 – Improved multiplayer significantly, but ended up with a very, very poorly done campaign that did not focus on Master Chief enough and is generally thought of as the worst campaign in the series.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection – It was a long time ago now, but this was a truly disastrous release at launch where the game just straight-up did not work for months. Over the years, it’s slowly been improved and supported, and recently, passed the total number of Halo Infinite players on PC after a recent update.

Halo Infinite – It was the most-played Halo game at launch, thanks to its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass. There was a lot of love initially for how fun the open world sandbox was with Master Chief’s collection of tools, though the story was a bit…more debatable. It felt like we missed out on some major events as 343 tried to “fix” the story of Halo 5, and it ended right when things were getting interesting with a new potential race, and now we have zero idea when the narrative is meant to continue.

Multiplayer has been…rough. Gameplay is solid, but Infinite boasted one of the worst progression systems in the genre which has had to be overhauled and changed multiple times over the course of this season, the same being true for its microtransactions as well. Now, with a second six month season bringing only two maps and three modes, fans believe 343 just can’t support the game at the scale it needs. And all of this come after Halo Infinite was already delayed a year from its initial launch window which was supposed to be alongside the Xbox Series X/S debut.

The Halo Show – This is a minor aside, but 343 has been heavily involved in the Paramount Plus show, which has a sprawling budget and went through a million scripts before it made it to release. The show has had a few solid battles, but generally speaking, does not seem to be beloved by most fans or casual viewers at this point with strange story and character decisions.

343 has had control of Halo for ten years now, since the 2012 release of Halo 4. While Halo games continue to sell well because…they’re Halo games, it always seems like there’s some major issue accompanying each release, holding the game and the series back from where it needs to be as what’s supposed to be Microsoft’s flagship IP.

Microsoft is already starting to bring in “help.” Certain Affinity is now building a separate multiplayer mode, presumably a battle royale, for release alongside Halo Infinite. I guess the question is whether or not Microsoft wants to continue to place its faith in 343 for the long arc of the franchise given what we’ve seen over the past ten years, and how in many ways, the current state of Infinite and its development is one of the most unsettling turns to date (though I don’t think anything will top the all-time terrible Halo MCC launch).

The question might be…do they even have another option? Sony just bought Bungie so some master plan of bringing them back to take over is not going to happen, not that Bungie would give up work on Destiny and their own new IPs anyway. And Microsoft is still trying to figure out how to make its own new first party studios work, and production problems plague The Initiative and its Perfect Dark game.

Perhaps the answer is time, and Halo Infinite will find its groove eventually. But again, I think this is about looking at the larger arc of the last ten years, which I would argue lays out a much broader problem than Infinite’s most recent struggles. So far, Microsoft does not seem to agree.
 

Bo_Hazem

Gold Dealer
It's unfortunate because Halo Infinite has excellent bones when it comes down to it, but they really need to work on their servers and offer gamers a steady stream of engaging content drops and rewarding XP gains that make you want to grind and unlock more trinkets.

Updates and content make or break these live services. I still feel sad because of what happened to Anthem, the core gameplay and graphics/effects were wonderful. A very small effort would have made it massive if it was run by competent devs.
 
I don't see dumping Halo on someone else being particularly beneficial unless that studio is keen to take on such a huge responsibility and potentially never make another IP again. Having 343 as a dedicated Halo studio just makes sense.

What they need to do is having a massive fucking shake-up of upper management and sort out their contractor situation once and for all.
 

Pejo

Member
No.
Remove Bonnie Ross and 343's issues will sort themselves out.
While shit does always roll downhill, I think there's lots of poopers at 343, not just Bonnie.

She clearly loves the TV thing, so they should just move her to that and call in some consultants to see who makes the cut and do a recruitment run.
 

Pejo

Member
Seems like there has been quite the heel turn on Halo Infinite lately.
I realize that I'm not the target audience for Halo games, but in the past I have only dabbled in the multiplayer and instead got my money's worth out of them with co-op campaign runs with friends. There was literally nothing for me with Infinite.
 

Topher

Gold Member
I thought they create a pretty good template to build on with Halo Infinite. The open world campaign needs to be fleshed out a bit, but I really enjoyed it overall. Having said that, I get the impression a lot of the issues people have are not necessarily with the single player.
 

Bo_Hazem

Gold Dealer
I thought they create a pretty good template to build on with Halo Infinite. The open world campaign needs to be fleshed out a bit, but I really enjoyed it overall. Having said that, I get the impression a lot of the issues people have are not necessarily with the single player.

High expectations also didn't help:

 

Zeroing

Gold Member
Man the shit 343 takes is kinda sad at this point. People really keep shitting on them all the time. They are fucking humans probably trying to do their best

How about "should 343 make the games they want to make?"
You do have a point. Maybe it would be best for the studio to try a new IP. It must be creatively numbing to keep doing the same IP for years.
 

stickkidsam

Gold Member
Man the shit 343 takes is kinda sad at this point. People really keep shitting on them all the time. They are fucking humans probably trying to do their best

How about "should 343 make the games they want to make?"
I feel like people are pretty sympathetic for the devs at 343 (with the exception of the heads). We know from leaks and employee reviews that working there is a terribly managed mess.

343 was made to develop Halo though. What the hell are you doing there if you don’t want to make Halo?
 

Mr Moose

Member
It took them a long time and we don't know how much they outsourced to... Forgot their name.
It feels like Certain Affinity is being groomed to take over the franchise in the next couple of years.
These. (It's on the OP but I thought it was a different name lol).
Yeah they probably should hand it to someone else, focus on a new IP.
Right now they are the DICE of MicroSoft/Xbox gaming, slow on content/missing features. They should be asked what they want to do and if it's more Halo or not.
 
In my opinion Halo should have ended after Halo 3 the way Bungie intended it to end
but they keep making more and more and the quality suffer because of it
Halo was declining even when 343 had never touch it yet
so putting all the blame on 343 is not really fair
Bungie had as much to blame in my opinion cause
they abandoned Halo and don't want to make anymore and was force to make ODST & Reach
and then the split from Microsoft
 

LordCBH

Member
I don’t think so. What they need to do is axe the entirety of 343ms leadership. On a gameplay side of things, they’ve been mostly fine. Infinite controls very well and the gun play is actually a lot of fun, much like with 5 and 4. But everything else is….not great.

Axe the leadership and get some people with an actual solid vision AND plan in place and they’ll be fine.
 

EDMIX

Member
Who knows, its a hard one.

I'm not sure if the issues with Halo is cause the team or MS themselves.

Maybe instead of giving Halo to another team, they can give it a rest for a few years or gens or something. Not every IP need to have so many titles release a gen. Let it go, come back, revisit when they have a great idea. They fucking put out games like they NEED to put out a Halo and it just ends up resulting in horrible releases. Its one of the few IPs that started during the PS2,XB,GC generation that I just hate seeing milked like this. (that gen had some good ass new IP too)
 

Rentahamster

Rodent Whores
It's hard to say if someone else would have been better or if Halo was destined to lose quality over the years. What I do know is that the franchise hasn't engaged me much since Halo 3.
 
You don't come back from going F2P and missing, what other move is out there for them? Clawing their way back with updates years from now while they sort themselves out? Another F2P down the line? Mobile?

This was a franchise that was able to sell close to 10m on a platform that charged people to play online and now can't find a big audience while being F2P.
 
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343 fundamentally just don’t understand what makes a great game. Never mind a great Halo game. Why would anyone create a brand new studio then hand them the keys to the platforms largest and most important franchise? Think about how ridiculous that sounds.

As soon as they took control we got heavy retcons of existing lore. They stripped co-op and pushed out the shortest and most uninspired campaigns of the series back to back. They have taken the mainline Halo universe in an absurd direction. Actually, scratch that… they have completely butchered the universe beyond saving. Then we get to multiplayer. Where’s the innovation? They don’t know what they want Halo multiplayer to be. COD? F2P? Throw enough shit at the wall and something has gotta stick right? What a fucking joke.
 
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343 wanted to make their own stamp on Halo. It has failed multiple times in terms of campaign and multiplayer over the 4 major releases under 343. The studio has a proven track record of broken games, poor comms and generally not delivering the level of choice players want over how they wish to play Halo solo or with friends. It has an extreme focus on North America in terms of its online components as well. Long ago MS/Xbox should have bought Certain Affinity and put Max Hoberman in charge of all things multiplayer. The entire core group around game direction and development needs to go, their track record speaks for itself in this regard. Corrine Yu leaving after bringing the insanely high quality Halo 4 engine/graphics to life back on crap Xbox One hardware was a huge hit in terms talent for MS, 343 and Halo.

The show in terms of characters, development and story is a total farce. It's fucking garbage outside of the "I finally got to see some money thrown at real life Halo action". Bungie commercials and Blur cutscenes crap all over the show in this regard even. H2A was handled very well under 343 but generally that was a Bungie core game with Max and his CA team delivering the best 343 has ever offered in terms of multiplayer, yes better than Infinite. Even the handling of playlists/maps/modes of a finally working MCC is a total shit show; how in the fuck are modes like 2 flag or bomb on Valhalla completely absent for years still from even being in the pool selection? The divide 343 has driven right down the middle of Halo with 5 and Infinite, being esports vs chaotic BTB is beyond reproach for the largest core fans of the entire series since day one; default 4v4 fun competitive play with light vehicles. Bungie understood MLG/HCS/esports is not the core of their audience and never will be the largest demographic. It's a show piece, not the core game. I do have respect for Halo 5's Warzone and Firefight especially, likely the best we got out of 343 directly. MCC's floodfight is fun and a wonderful free addition to the game, mad Kudos there too.

If you look purely at the choice to not develop a battle royale or PvE modes akin to Destiny 2 raids, strikes, world events, GaaS coop etc it's a fucking tragedy 343 rehashed esports/BTB yet again with Infinite. If they wanted the freedom and razor focus on core modes with a dwindling population but able to attract new audiences and ebb and flow of content drops around competitor releases/seasons they missed the boat hugely by deciding early on to not support BR/PvE. Another series of blackmarks on the decision making at 343. I place blame firmly on Xbox and studio heads at 343 for not realising/pitching or executing that in reality two games should have been developed and released. Staff, teams and support outsourcing specifically for esports game release 1 vs say Battle Royale game release 2. It enables far more focus of talent, deliverables, pipelines, engine etc etc.

343 missed an opportunity for leased servers on the back of Azure services tied right into regional matchmaking. Guarantee you and your friends a local host while playing Halo campaign, multi or customs/forge all while ensuring funding for server regions and backend supply. Why hasn't this become a reality like Minecraft servers for PC but across Xbox and PC? Why isn't this a reflection of Bungie days curating Xbox Live to current day pushing cross play and cross content systems with paid services to dedis, matchmaking regional hosts guaranteed etc. Why isn't this part of Infinite's mods strategy? Why do we know nothing about how Infinite/343 are going to support mods, because it's another management marketing tick box without actual delivery or being on time for launch or roadmap ETAs.

The quality control out of 343 has downgraded them from a AAA studio to far less than a A-grade studio. There is no if and or buts about it. 343 games don't work, break players and parties apart while degrading the overall Xbox and Halo experiences. I haven't even entered into progression, content, story, game engine and all the rest of it. I shudder to even compare current Halo Infinite or TV show to my mind's eye version of Halo, shit ain't even close to hitting its potential. Halo could be so much more, could have been so much more.

As for Infinite being the most played Halo game to launch, what bullshit. The game finally went crossplay and F2P, of course the launch numbers were up there by comparison to old. Imagine if Halo 3 had crossplay and PC support at launch. Now show me the sustained population 6 months later... The sad part is so many first timers on PC dove into Infinite's campaign (a real light story campaign coddled together over a very decent sandbox but the game isn't actually very fulfilling) and a multiplayer that is missing staples and light on content for a long ass time as well as being broken in some modes. They could have captured so many new Halo fans.

Yes there needs to be serious change at 343. It's as simple as this -

This got us all excited -



Here's what we got, feel like the same thing to you?

 
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Jaybe

Member
At the root of it, 343 and MS need to start being gamer-first in their decisions and stewards of the franchise. They need to ask does this make the game fun, is this Halo. I suspect Bonnie doesn’t have a clue and is all just words. In 2017, she said she understood split screen coop was integral and would be in all future games. To be seen with Infinite, but if split screen coop makes it, it will be at least a year after launch.
 

SlimySnake

Member
Give Halo a break. Just shelve it for a few years. Maybe a gen or two. Then comeback in 2030 with a fresh new idea on a next gen engine. I understand that Halo Infinite was supposed to be that reboot but clearly this studio couldnt do in 6 years what cory did in 4 years with GOW with like 3x as many people.

I would personally like to see a third person halo with melee and all kinds of fancy superhero moves. Make it a war game. Not a small skirmish game. Thats played out. I felt like I was playing Halo 1 at times when playing Halo Infinite. The formula needs to change.
 

Deerock71

Member
Why not Rare? They actually catapulted the FPS to the console mainstream with Goldeneye. I know all the talent from back then has gone, but it'd be cool to see them rise to FPS glory again.
 

HTK

Member
Give Halo a break. Just shelve it for a few years. Maybe a gen or two. Then comeback in 2030 with a fresh new idea on a next gen engine. I understand that Halo Infinite was supposed to be that reboot but clearly this studio couldnt do in 6 years what cory did in 4 years with GOW with like 3x as many people.

I would personally like to see a third person halo with melee and all kinds of fancy superhero moves. Make it a war game. Not a small skirmish game. Thats played out. I felt like I was playing Halo 1 at times when playing Halo Infinite. The formula needs to change.
You could say it's been shelved already, the gap between Halo 5 and Halo: Infinite is 6 years.

I think a different studio should take the helm, 343 has had numerous tries with no luck.
 

DarkMage619

Member
The missing features and modes in multiplayer suck no doubt. As with all service type games the launch isn't the best version of the title. Apex Legends, Fortnite, and hell, Sea of Thieves didn't launch in the state they are in today. Given time Halo will improve. I do hope they can get a massive improvement to the internal workings of 343i for sure. They appear to have the same problems over and over again.
 

MadPanda

Member
Man the shit 343 takes is kinda sad at this point. People really keep shitting on them all the time. They are humans probably trying to do their best

How about "should 343 make the games they want to make?"
They are humans, but they make a product which is enjoyed and consumed by millions of people and their sole responsibility is to make that product appealing to those millions of people. If you can't do it, you either step up or step aside. This isn't charity. They were also praised a lot for the good things, like gunplay etc but a couple of maps a year after the launch is depressing. You can't tell us they're doing their best with these stats. Halo still feels like an unfinished product, a beta build which has got fundamentals set but is missing content.
HALO is donzo. Is clear to me that you can not JUST GIVE an IP to a studio that don't love it.

343i should have a chance to make a new IP. Instead they were 'force' to keep making Halos.

You do have a point. Maybe it would be best for the studio to try a new IP. It must be creatively numbing to keep doing the same IP for years.

That studio is made to make Halo games and everyone joining them is joining because they want to make Halo. If they don't like it anymore they should find another studio. What you're saying is like going to McDonald's and complaining you're making hamburgers all the time. What else do you expect? 343i's name tells you all you need to know.

I hope they sort their problems sooner rather than later. I read somewhere that they don't want to crunch, which is fine, but then they should hire many support studios. This is not how a gaas is done.

People complain about Activision ans their putting multiple studios on call of Duty but Halo and Battlefield show us why it needs to be done. Call of Duty works like a Swiss clock, always pumping new products and a steady stream of content for every title. That's why it's the best selling game every year for the past ten to fifteen years. You know you'll get your content delivered.
 
I don't see dumping Halo on someone else being particularly beneficial unless that studio is keen to take on such a huge responsibility and potentially never make another IP again. Having 343 as a dedicated Halo studio just makes sense.

What they need to do is having a massive fucking shake-up of upper management and sort out their contractor situation once and for all.
100%
 

ZehDon

Member
Give Halo a break... I understand that Halo Infinite was supposed to be that reboot but clearly this studio couldnt do in 6 years what cory did in 4 years with GOW with like 3x as many people.

...I felt like I was playing Halo 1 at times when playing Halo Infinite. The formula needs to change.
Infinite was supposed to be their redemption. So, 343i were given six years, a massive amount of rope from the community, and what did they do? They made the smallest, blandest campaign and the most disastrous multiplayer in franchise history. 3 years, 6 years, 10 years - wouldn't make a lick of difference. Their best work is simply re-releasing Bungie's games - after years of fixing how badly they fucked that up, too, of course. 343 Industries are simply incompetent and actually kind of terrible at making video games - easily Microsoft's worst developer.

In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with Halo's formula, the issue is 343 Industries has no interest in 'Halo' or executing its formula correctly. Halo 4 was too small, Halo 5 was too dumb and linear, Infinite had no direction. From day one, 343i been desperately trying to "remake" Halo into something its simply not. Halo 4 wanted to be COD. Halo 5 wanted to be Star Wars. Infinite wanted to be Far Cry. 343i simply don't want to make 'Halo'. Considering that's the entire purpose of its existence, it's easy to see where the problems stem from. To be honest, if I were an employee at 343i, as I walked into the office every day and passed the 343i logo, I'd feel pretty bad: I wanted a career in video games, making titles that excite and entertain, to demonstrate my creativity, my passion, and my raw artistic talent - and I ended up at the bottom of the barrel.
 
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ChorizoPicozo

Gold Member
That studio is made to make Halo games.
that's the point. Video-game making is not a sausage factory.

everyone joining them is joining because they want to make Halo
not necessarily. but certainly people in positions of power (leadership) like the Creative Director for example.

. If they don't like it anymore they should find another studio. What you're saying is like going to McDonald's and complaining you're making hamburgers all the time. What else do you expect? 343i's name tells you all you need to know.
Again, that's the point. And videogame making is a creative job. McDonald is not.

I hope they sort their problems sooner rather than later
343i has been having issues (creatively and technically) since their inception.

.I read somewhere that they don't want to crunch, which is fine, but then they should hire many support studios. This is not how a gaas is done.
I heard that one of the main issues is how 343i works: Tons contract jobs which in turn create a lot of turn over due to the lack of future prospect of growth inside the studio.

People complain about Activision ans their putting multiple studios on call of Duty but Halo and Battlefield show us why it needs to be done. Call of Duty works like a Swiss clock, always pumping new products and a steady stream of content for every title. That's wbeen hy it's the best selling game every year for the past ten to fifteen years. You know you'll get your content delivered.
I mean yeah. That ain't easy at all tho. But there are some examples of success and relative success in games that were launched in a poor state.

The question is: Does 343i is going to be capable of do it IN TIME?....that is a quite scary thought
 
Infinite was supposed to be their redemption. So, 343i were given six years, a massive amount of rope from the community, and what did they do? They made the smallest, blandest campaign and the most disastrous multiplayer in franchise history. 3 years, 6 years, 10 years - wouldn't make a lick of difference. Their best work is simply re-releasing Bungie's games - after years of fixing how badly they fucked that up, too, of course. 343 Industries are simply incompetent and actually kind of terrible at making video games - easily Microsoft's worst developer.

In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with Halo's formula, the issue is 343 Industries has no interest in 'Halo' or executing its formula correctly. Halo 4 was too small, Halo 5 was too dumb and linear, Infinite had no direction. From day one, 343i been desperately trying to "remake" Halo into something its simply not. Halo 4 wanted to be COD. Halo 5 wanted to be Star Wars. Infinite wanted to be Far Cry. 343i simply don't want to make 'Halo'. Considering that's the entire purpose of its existence, it's easy to see where the problems stem from. To be honest, if I were an employee at 343i, as I walked into the office every day and passed the 343i logo, I'd feel pretty bad: I wanted a career in video games, making titles that excite and entertain, to demonstrate my creativity, my passion, and my raw artistic talent - and I ended up at the bottom of the barrel.

In the 6.5 years to date of Infinite's history had 343 done anything close to Apex Legends launch to 1 year post support Halo would be killing it right now.

In the 6.5 years to date of Infinite's history had 343 done anything close to Destiny 1 launch to 1 year post support Halo would be killing it right now.

In the 6.5 years to date of Infinite's history had 343 done anything close to Minecraft's modding and server support launch to 1 year post support Halo would be killing it right now.


IMO none of these roads to success would have required 6.5 years nor required a change to the Halo formula. It's taking the existing Halo formula from Halo 2/3/H2A and just applying it to new experiences. It's not rocket science. The hubris 343 continue to show and fail to backup has destroyed a 15-20 person crew of hardcore Halo fans. Fuck all of them play Halo anymore. 6 of them even played the campaign, 2 play rarely for cosmetics then stop playing. The others didn't even install a F2P Halo. It speaks volumes about the state of Halo and completely missing the core experience of 4v4 fun competitive with light vehicles that Bungie nailed and expanded into 8V8 or condensed to FFA etc.

Seems the Xbox S/X threw some spanners into the works as did Covid but seeing Apex drop out of nowhere on 2.5-3 years development shows what a smaller talented and focused team like Respawn could do. Fallen Order and Apex Legends in the same time as Infinite. I don't understand so many decisions around redesigning and developing everything e.g. audio, gun sounds, art, textures, models, weapons etc etc. What of a core team just making a great game off the assets they have? MCC shows how well this is received in terms of existing fans (console) and new fans (PC). It highlights the sheer wastage and lack of management to focus on the game and the experience over the platform or the features or the engine or that staff member having something specific to their role.

Go back to go forward. I see the tech behind Halo 5 Firefight and I see Halo flavoured Apex Legends with less than 2 years solid development and core team making a framework for another 2 sets of content teams to get rolling updates out post launch. Why didn't they do such things? Why don't they think outside of the box? Why do they rebuild, redesign, a retread everything? Take the TV show for example, why didn't they look at a Blur Studios movie, all CGI based? It worked wonders for Final Fantasy. I think there was really something in that given all the source material. Would any fan have complained if the TV show was hitting the visuals in 4K of what H2A cutscenes did? Why redo everything when it's right there to fucking work with? Same goes for the games. I don't understand. All I and my entire circle of friends have ever wanted from Halo was the same old weapons, mechanics, characters etc put into more interesting maps and modes and stories etc. Everything else is just gravy but not essential to the resulting game being good. There's a reason people still play Pac-Man or Mario64 and many others, there's a reason my kids can play Zelda or Fortnite or Apex time and time again. Halo doesn't have that anymore.

I've said in other posts but Halo would do very well to go full open source, the community could deliver games of this scale faster and better. 343 can support or greenlight or fund such things and then profit share through gamepass. Imagine Halo games popping up or mini games packaged and released. A little creativity goes a bloody long way.
 

Hobbygaming

has been asked to post in 'Grounded' mode.
ID Software, or even a COD team would do a much better job with Halo imo
 
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As an Xbox gamer I loved the campaign. 343 hit it out of the park. I don't play multiplayer so I couldn't care less about it, but 343 have underperformed with the amount of money and resources they have had for the development of the game. It comes across as a woke company that would rather employ a less capable employee who is a member of the protected classes. If so then they show why you should employ based on talent. I don't care if the studio is 95%,transgender muslims if they release legendary games.
 
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