Earlier today, 343 Industries announced the next major content patch coming to Halo Infinite: the Winter Update. The update features the Forge beta, the launch of network campaign co-op, a beta test for a new "Match XP" progression system, a pair of additional multiplayer maps, and a free 30-tier Battle Pass. The studio also gave fans a sneak peek at Season 3, which was delayed to March 7, 2023 but will include the long-awaited Custom Games Browser along with new maps, modes, and some new sandbox items.
This is relatively good news, as it's good to know that substantial additions are coming to the game in the near future. However, as part of the announcement, the developer also revealed that Halo Infinite's local splitscreen campaign co-op feature — originally slated to launch at some point during Season 3 — has been axed in order to "accelerate ongoing live service development."
"We have had to make the difficult decision not to ship campaign splitscreen co-op and take the resources that we would use on that and go after this list," said Halo Infinite's Head of Creative Joseph Staten in a developer update video, referring to the Winter Update and the Season 3 roadmap.
This came as a huge shock to the Halo community, as Bonnie Ross, the Founder and Head of 343 Industries, previously gave a speech during the 2017 D.I.C.E. Summit in which she stated that "for any FPS going out, we will always have splitscreen in going forward" in response to widespread criticism of the feature being absent from Halo 5: Guardians. Community Director Brian Jarrard then confirmed the "long-awaited return of splitscreen support" in Halo Infinite in a 2019 Xbox blog post. Most recently, Staten announced that 343 Industries was "committed to a great 2-player split-screen co-op experience on all Xbox consoles" in March of this year.
Ultimately, there's really no other way to say it: by cancelling Halo Infinite campaign splitscreen, 343 Industries has broken the promise it made to players three times over. Both before and after the campaign was released, the community was assured that campaign splitscreen support was being worked on and that it would be available to enjoy at some point. Now, that's not happening, and many people who bought the campaign thinking that they'd eventually be able to play it on the couch with their friends and family are understandably angry about it.
Personally, I've never cared that much about splitscreen, as I can't even remember the last time I used it and the feature has become less and less common over the years. However, that's not the point. By cancelling it, 343 Industries has eroded trust between the studio and Halo's fanbase.
It's hard not to wonder about what else might get canned if the studio is willing to go back on its splitscreen promises and marketing. I don't like being cynical, but this whole ordeal makes it difficult for me to put stock in Halo Infinite's new roadmap and blog posts in which the developers "commit" to something.
Hopefully, something like this will never happen again with Halo Infinite. With any luck, this reallocation of resources will help 343 Industries solidify more stable development pipelines so that no other promised features get cancelled and the game grows into one of the best Xbox shooters there is. After this, though, it's tough to give the studio the benefit of the doubt about the Halo Infinite's future. I hope 343 Industries eventually reconsiders, does right by the fans, and goes back to splitscreen at some point.
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