On December 10, 2012, the first Halo 4 map pack came out ... and most people could download it for free if they knew what to do. Then, Microsoft came up with some bogus story in an attempt to look like the god guys, but instead made a good portion of the Halo community furious.
Okay, so this whole affair looks like an innocent mistake that was very poorly handled.
Guessing at things I know nothing about, here's what I believe happened:
1) In an attempt to fix an issue preventing some Season Pass and Limited Edition owners from downloading the Map Pack at no cost, the Specialization Code accidentally began being seen by Halo 4 as the Season Pass, thus allowing anyone who redeemed it to be offered the Map Pack free of charge.
2) After almost a day of no response to this "mixup," Microsoft PR sent out a statement saying:
As an additional reward to those customers that participated in our "14 Day, Buy and Play" program (which ran from Nov. 6 – Nov. 20), we are providing complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack for a limited time, through Tuesday, December 18 at 9am UTC/GMT.
There were some initial complications with the distribution of the "14 day, Buy and Play" reward tokens, and so we decided to provide the additional reward of complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack, for a limited time, as a "thank you" to our customers that contributed to the success of the "Halo 4" launch.
I, again with no actual proof, find this statement to be total BS: mostly because it kind of makes the whole situation worse.
This is because
(a) You don't give out $10 map packs for free without making a big deal about it before hand.
(b) You don't give "qualifying" users multiple ways to actually pay money for an item without any notice that they can get it for free; for example, the description of the map pack in the dashboard reads "If you own Halo 4’s “War Game Map Pass,” DO NOT purchase this content here as you will be charged again." It would mention this "14 day, Buy and Play" if it was something they had intended.
(c) For anone who played Halo 4 online before Nov. 20, this "program" makes buying the Season Pass 25% MORE expensive than purchasing the map packs individually instead of 17% cheaper.
So...what should Microsoft do. Before it issued its statement, I would have said to fix the issue and let the people who got the maps for free keep them; after all, accidents happen. However, if Microsoft is going to say this was intentional, then it is going to have to to some other things if they want to keep the trust of the Halo community. First of all, just keep the Crimson Map Pack free forever, and issue an 800 MSP refund to anyone who actually paid money for it. Secondly, either (a) give all current Season Pass owners (and probably Limited Edition owners, as well, but that's a little different) 400 MSP so that they aren't spending more money on their pass than the individual maps, or (b), which is favorite idea, release a forth map pack in Summer 2013; this way Season Pass owners get $30 worth of maps. (And who doesn't like more maps?) Maybe this map pack is three remakes (I assume remaking maps from Halo 2, 3, and Reach is slightly less work than designing new maps from scratch); maybe you make a list of like ten maps and let the community vote on their favorites; hey, I'm just throwing out ideas.
If they aren't going to do any of these things, they at least need to put out official statements on Xbox.com and HaloWaypoint.com, as well as put some kind of notice on the Xbox dashboard so people don't continue to purchase maps they are supposed to get for free.
Anyway, this post is way too long, and to think I would have been totally satisfied if Microsoft just said, "Our bad," and moved on.