How crazy is it that they decided to delay Halo Infinite?

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NotSoSneakyGuy

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Between all the cross brand promotions (i.e. Fortnite, Butterfinger, Nerf) and the prominence of Halo Infinite on the Series X packaging, it almost seems crazier that they did delay it.

It's really clear that they meant for this thing to be out by now, where all this stuff would hit altogether.

It just makes me wonder how the decision was made to push the release. Was is that bad? That it would've done more harm coming out now, basically throwing out all the effort and planning they've done for this year? They're not going to try again with this stuff 8-10 months from now.

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mrcraggle

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It's Halo's 20th anniversary next year, they're going to go big.

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brian_

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#3 brian_  Online

Really crazy. Up until about 3 or 4 months ago, they were going to put this game out. Now they've decided it needs a year's worth of work. The pandemic undoubtedly plays a big role in that, but man, that is nuts. I know it's been said before, but they really can't afford to screw up Halo until they get some of their new studios to churn out a deeper 1st party library.

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BisonHero

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#4  Edited By BisonHero

I can almost guarantee that for most major publishers, due to covid-19 they have had to do one or more of the following:

  1. delay a game with a confirmed release date due to decreased productivity from pandemic disruption
  2. take a game that was going to have a 2020 release date confirmed at E3 or something and instead quietly change its release date to "TBD 2021" because they don't have confidence they can meet the original internal projected release date, and also delay all their marketing plans
  3. take a game that was going to be announced at E3 or something and instead announce it months and months later, or quietly don't even announce the game in 2020 at all because why even announce a game if you don't have confidence you can meet the original internal projected release date, and also delay all their marketing plans

Most of the publishers have some financial obligation to release some games each quarter to keep shareholders happy and maintain public perception that they're an active force in the video games space, but I'd guess that a lot of projects slipped out of Q3 and Q4 2020 and release calendars are much sparser all around than originally planned.

It sounds like maybe Halo Infinite had a troubled development where even without the pandemic the public reaction to it wasn't going to be very positive, but I have to imagine the game would've been in a better showable state for that Xbox event if the pandemic weren't a factor. Instead that gameplay demo looked kinda rough.

Back to the publishers though: I imagine some projects have the luxury of "delaying the game until it's good" like hopefully Halo Infinite, but a lot of projects simply do not have that sway because the money for the project runs out and they're forced to ship it, or there is too much money riding on the marketing deals lining up with the already announced release date. So actually way more things should've been delayed like Halo Infinite, but instead a lot of the new consoles and fall games came out in the quarter they were supposed to. Except everything is coming in hot and buggy as hell.

So I guess I think the 1 year delay is almost reasonable, if putting it out this fall would've been some Anthem-like disaster, but it seems no one on the Halo team could admit that to themselves until the public saw that gameplay demo.

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superfriend

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I think blaming the pandemic for this is way too easy.

They had what - 5 or 6 years to work on this? I seriously doubt the game would have looked any better under normal circumstances. Like a lot of other videogames, there is probably serious mismanagement going on behind the scenes.

At least they delayed it by almost a year, so I hope the team won't have to crunch to fix the mistakes made by leads (like the artstyle, the game being cross-generation and that god awful main antagonist)

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apewins

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#6  Edited By apewins

The dissonance between how rough the game apparently is, and how they were even thinking about releasing this year originally, is mind-blowing. If it were a less important franchise, they could get away with releasing a mediocre game then hopefully doing better for the sequel. But it's Halo!

Think about it, what was the last AAA game that had poor graphics (from a technical perspective)? That just doesn't happen, because graphics sell games even when everything else about the game sucks. I don't want to say that making graphics is easy, but if they don't even have that aspect in order after 8 years, what difference is another year going to make? Fixing bugs, balancing difficulty, fine-tuning controls, that kind of stuff I imagine is what they do in the final stages of development, and that kind of stuff you can hide in an E3 presentation where you control every aspect about it. But graphics? Are they switching to a new engine like with Duke Nukem Forever? How do they mess up graphics in a Halo game??

How did Microsoft not look at the state of the game 2-3 years ago and then fire the entire management at 343 and bring in people who can get the job done, no matter how much it would cost?

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ThePanzini

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Most of the marketing is done a month prior to release, delaying Infinite wouldn't have cost them much in that regard.

The damaged has been largely to 343i reputation which wasn't exactly glowing to begin with.

Almost since inception 343i glassdoor reviews have been quite eye watering describing a hostle environment, poor tools and communication with an over reliance on temp contractors.

Multiple insiders have commented on Infinite's troubled development and mis-management which have been far more costly, and not likely an easy fix.

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bigsocrates

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Given the importance of the Halo franchise to Microsoft and the fact that Halo 5 disappointed a lot of people (especially on the single player side) and that the Master Chief Collection was a total mess for years they would be insane not to delay it. Marketing deals come and go, and really they're just Xbox marketing not Halo specifically, but a series reputation can't be gotten back once it's trashed. Look at Sonic the Hedgehog and the damage that the mishandling of that series has done to Sega's brand, and more importantly to that once hyper valuable property.

Halo Infinite had big Sonic '06 vibes from what they showed and it needed to be retooled. That's the simple fact. Hopefully Microsoft's purchase of Bethesda will give them access to the guys at ID and Machine Games who are FPS experts and can help smooth that project out, because whatever they've been doing for all this time hasn't worked.

Then again Halo 5's multiplayer was actually pretty good, so who knows how Infinite ended up in the sorry state it was so close to launch.

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MostlySquares

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This whole situation is semi-off the rails. The launch of the xbox one couldn't have gone much worse, and the Series S/X consoles launch has not gone that much better..

Without Halo I think it's going to be hard to justify buying a Series S or X for a lot of people until there are some games on it. And as it stands right now, there's kinda nothing big coming out until like the middle of/late next year? I watched the Game Awards just now and I have to say that it was probably the most boring game awards I've ever watched. This is the start of a new generation... I might have been hoping for too much, but damn... 3rd person action game fans are probably really happy. The rest of us won't really see any new games worth playing for a couple of years? Aside from yearly shooters and live games ported ininspiredly to new hardware I mean. And there's not even Halo to cleanse the palate after running through 8 3rd person action games in a row...

I feel like these delays are just part of that 2020 suck. I'm just gonna hunker down with my oculus quest 2 and hope for something to pop out of the blue soon. If not, then I'll skip yet another MS generation.. And just be sad about it for 7 years.

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bigsocrates

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@mostlysquares: Series S/X have a ton of games on them. An almost overwhelming number. They just aren't exclusive. Halo Infinite was never planned to be exclusive either.

Microsoft clearly isn't following that model. We know this because even recent games they've funded have popped up on other platforms (like Ori 2 on Switch). They're all in on Gamepass and a lot of the money that Sony spends on development Microsoft has spent on non-exclusive Gamepass deals. The Series S/X boxes are just to give people good hardware to play Gamepass stuff on. That's what they're for. Of course Microsoft will continue to sell games traditionally as long as that's profitable and people want it, and they're going to create exclusive Gamepass games for the Microsoft ecoystem the same way that Netflix creates Netflix exclusive programming, but Gamepass is the product.

That might appeal to you or it might not, but it's nothing like the total botch of Xbox One because with Xbox One the question always was "who is the market for this Kinect/TV integration stuff" and the answer was always "nobody." It was frickin' insane to bet big on TV of all things in 2013! TV! And the Xbox didn't even act directly as a cable box for whatever people still had TV.

Betting big on Gamepass may or may not succeed but it's a much smarter, more directed, bet.

Microsoft is a big 5 software company and it's approaching gaming a lot more like one than like Sony is. Look at how Google and Amazon are getting into gaming. Microsoft is doing things basically the same way, except they are leveraging the Xbox infrastructure and name brand to their advantage. PlayStation 5 is the traditional console for traditional console gamers. Xbox Series X is just a piece of hardware for people who want something that can run the Xbox Gamepass stuff well locally. For people who already have good PCs or who have PS5s and don't want Gamepass there's not a lot of value there, but Microsoft is happy if PC users play Gamepass stuff there anyway.

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noobsauce

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It's nuts but I'd much rather the game got delayed and be better for it than not. If anything, they should target a November 15 release date to mark the exact 20 year anniversary of the franchise at this point.

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bmccann42

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The problem I have with Gamepass is the bandwidth requirements, particularly due to data caps up here in Canada.

I'm lucky to have an unlimited plan, but without any real competition between our ISPs up here they really have a hefty control over bandwidth amounts, so constantly downloading games onto small hard drives is going to cost some people.

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navster15

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@bmccann42: I honestly don’t think data caps are as big a deal as many claim it to be. Clearly, with both Sony and Microsoft releasing lower cost digital consoles, and Nintendo putting out physical releases that are just download codes in cases, the big three have data showing a significant portion of their audience, if not a majority, are all in on digital. And for the remaining audience who have crappy internet, there’s always the traditional way of buying disc copies and putting them into the higher tier consoles. So for Gamepass specifically, I’m not sure that’s a huge concern that infrastructure will hobble it.

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frytup

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#14  Edited By frytup

It was pretty crazy that it wasn't ready for release with the Series X launch, but knowing what we know now it's not at all surprising that they've pushed release a full year.

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whitegreyblack

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#15  Edited By whitegreyblack

@superfriend: Just about any time I hear developers talk about making a game (and I know it's also true for much of the creative work I do in my own graphic design business) a large-scale project really comes together in the final stretch of development. Having the final year of a 5-6 year process in the shambles that has been 2020 can absolutely derail the whole thing.

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CurseOfTheWise

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I dunno, with how mixed-up Cyberpunk 2077's release has been, I can see Microsoft not wanting another "Master Chief Collection" debacle on their hands, especially as this is a much bigger release.

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jagerxbomb

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I wonder if the Monster and Doritos codes will still work next year.

In the long run it's for the best, I mean look at Cyberpunk.

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norm9

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#18 norm9  Online

I'm glad they're delaying it. The game would get savaged if it didn't reach the expectations that people have built up for themselves in their minds.

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urban_ryoga

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my initial reaction was to look at recent call outs of CDPR and crunch and some disappointing reaction from some of the Halo fanbase of the last trailer to come out and say "fair".

I think whatever changes they wanted to implement would've normally been a 3 month crunch thing in the industry, but considering PR and other things, I think pushing it out a year is the best decision they could've made.

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thesquarepear

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Even if I might not like it I think enough time has passed for Halo that it's almost like original Doom, Quake and Half-Life in that it's revered but not really relevant at the moment.

Was there even a "good" Halo game for Xbox One not counting the Master Chief collection? I never played Halo 4 or 5 but seemed like people were kind of "meh" about them.

If they want to spend the time to make Halo something spectacular again I think they should take their time. I'm more worried why Microsoft didn't even announce a Forza game yet when car games seem like a staple for new consoles.

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Arjailer

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@navster15: Yeah, I'm a bit confused by the data cap argument against GamePass too. I don't think anyone's being forced to download ALL the games at once, are they?

Yes, you could make a concerted effort to blow your cap with GamePass, but in normal use I think a lot of people would probably be fine.

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bigsocrates

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@arjailer: Nobody is being forced to download anything on Gamepass, but the whole idea of it is "all you can eat, try whatever you want and play what you like." It's designed to be like Netflix where you pop in and out of stuff until you settle on something you want to play.

Now look at some of these file sizes. If you say "I want to see what this here Doom Eternal is all about" then you're using about 5% of your data cap (which is for everything, including Netflix and video streaming, not just games) on that one game. The same for most AAA experiences. So if you try just 5 big games a month that's 25% of your data cap right there. And Gamepass adds more than 5 big games most months. People won't try everything, of course, but it loses a lot of value if you have you carefully select what you'll download and play.

It's possible that Microsoft plans to combat this through its streaming service. If you can try games by streaming them then the problem is much less, because streaming half an hour of a game isn't going to cost you 50 gigs. But if you're downloading the whole game to try it out that can add up very quickly under normal expected usage. It's not about people playing through hundreds of gigs of games every month, it's about making it easy for them to sample stuff, which is very much part of the model and appeal.

Right now Gamepass subscriptions are still relatively low, and data caps aren't that common. The question is whether the model will run into problems when Gamepass needs to get into more homes at the same time that more homes are getting capped.

Maybe if streaming works well they can avoid the problem that way.

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tds418

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#23  Edited By tds418

As a Halo fan, I would much, much rather 343 take the time to make Infinite a great game than to push it out to hit an arbitrary release window. With the whole COVID situation I don't think it was crazy at all for them to push it, and I think it was the right decision.

edit: also, I saw this mentioned in another reply, but they came out and said that one of the reasons the game is being delayed a full year is to help alleviate crunch (the implication being if it came out in the spring, they would be crunching this entire time). That is another reason why I think this was the right decision.

edit 2:

@apewins said:
Think about it, what was the last AAA game that had poor graphics (from a technical perspective)? That just doesn't happen, because graphics sell games even when everything else about the game sucks.

Uh, Cyberpunk on PS4 and Xbox One? Don't even need to go past this week to find an example, lol.

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Arjailer

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@bigsocrates: Still don't think I buy it. Nobody complains that they don't have enough time (or data cap) to try every single Netflix show and film. You don't need to watch everything, you just need something available that you haven't seen before that appeals to you - same with GamePass. At least, that's how I think about it.

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bigsocrates

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@arjailer: First of all, people do complain about data caps and streaming. That's definitely a thing. So I'm not sure what you're talking about there. But streaming is different because your data use is proportional to your actual use. If you stream an hour of a Netflix show and decide you don't like it that only uses an hour's worth of streaming data. If you download a game and decide you don't like it then you've already downloaded the whole game and used all that data.

All the data I've seen from Microsoft suggests that people are, in fact, trying lots of different games, and abandoning many of them quickly. They're expanding their genre interests and trying stuff they have marginal interest in just because it's free, and that's a large part of Gamepass' appeal. It makes it so you don't have to think about whether it's worth it or not to try something because it's free. If you try 10 things and only like 1 or 2 and it's free that's fine. You've found 1 or 2 games you like. But if it starts costing you a bunch of money to try 10 games because of data caps then you start running into serious issues.

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NTM

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#26  Edited By NTM

I wonder, if people were like 'wow, this looks amazing!' when they showed it off, would they have released it already? Or do you think they internally knew it needed work? And yeah, it's weird to see Monster Energy cans have Halo XP stuff on them. I am interested to know what the full soundtrack sounds like though because Gareth Coker is helping out on it.

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NameRedacted

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@bigsocrates: The Microsoft - Zenimax deal still has to pass govt. regulators in the spring, so the deals not done and Microsoft doesn't own those devs or have the access to them.

Assuming Halo is slated for holiday 2021, I doubt any new developer acquisitions are gonna be than impactful on Halo's development.

I'd wager the game mechanics are done, now they're making the game not look like last gen. ass.

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Bromil

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@arjailer: First of all, people do complain about data caps and streaming. That's definitely a thing. So I'm not sure what you're talking about there. But streaming is different because your data use is proportional to your actual use. If you stream an hour of a Netflix show and decide you don't like it that only uses an hour's worth of streaming data. If you download a game and decide you don't like it then you've already downloaded the whole game and used all that data.

This. I don't have a data cap, but I do have shitty bandwidth. Thanks to my "high speed" DSL, I can stream video just fine(ish), but your average 50 GB AAA game takes about two days of continuous downloading to get. That's why while I love the *idea* of Gamepass, I have no personal interest in it. I don't mind the "cost" of an hour or so of my time streaming part of a TV show or movie I won't finish, but if I'm going to basically write off two or three days of using my internet for anything more than web browsing, I want to know the game is going to be worth the download. And at that point, it's almost a better option to keep an eye on word of mouth, post-launch updates, etc. and just buy the game during a Steam sale down the road.

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Humanity

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#29  Edited By Humanity

I think it is more surprising that they ended up showing it at all. Maybe it's a case of being too close to the thing you're working on to have any sort of perspective but did they look at that trailer and honestly think this is going to be a big wow-factor reveal for the launch of our next-gen console? It's the same warthog and the same grunts and hey you can now go anywhere on a map and it looks ok? It is nuts that this is the next-gen Halo they had to offer. Sadly I doubt a years worth of work is going to do much to change that. Maybe it will look a bit better but I'm sure the story, the structure and core gameplay is already set in stone.

I mean I'm kind of an outsider looking in because I always thought Halo was the most bog-standard shooter out on the market to the point where Call of Duty was doing more interesting things with it's campaign and multiplayer - in my opinion of course. So maybe that Infinite trailer was supposed to appeal to the core audience which, once again from the outside looking in, seems very much opposed to change. Seeing the reaction all around they didn't score all that many points with that crowd either. I mean this is Halo, the flagship Xbox franchise, the least they could do is make it extremely pretty for next gen. What a massive stumble.

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Arjailer

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@bromil: That sounds pretty rough, and I can see why it'd make you sceptical of GamePass. I guess I haven't been in that position for a while and forgot what it was like.

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tds418

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@bigsocrates: The Microsoft - Zenimax deal still has to pass govt. regulators in the spring, so the deals not done and Microsoft doesn't own those devs or have the access to them.

Technically true, but I don't think there's any real possibility the government will stop Microsoft from acquiring Zenimax. MS will not have a monopoly in games publishing or development if the acquisition is allowed to go through.

I'll also throw in my $0.02 regarding the summer presentation, because I think I had an unusual reaction. In retrospect the demo was graphically disappointing, but I was actually excited by what they showed at the time. I love the campaigns of 1-3 and Reach but 5 did not do a whole lot for me, so I was excited by the prospect of 343 shaking up the approach to the campaign and trying something that looks like it might have more emphasis on exploration. Metroid Prime is one of my favorite games of all time, so the idea of a Halo game where you're slowly exploring a Halo ring overworld and gaining access to additional areas as you acquire abilities (like a grapple hook) sounds VERY appealing to me. So graphics aside, I was excited by the gameplay they presented.

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dudeglove

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Considering what happened to Halo and Gears and other franchises over a decade ago, it's not crazy at all.

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DARKSOULS1988

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Bet it gets delayed again. Halo infinite delays! Its ok ive never been able to get my master chief collection to work

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