Halo was MIA at the Xbox Games Showcase. Phil Spencer reveals why.

Halo Infinite
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

What you need to know

  • While the 2023 Xbox Games Showcase was widely viewed as a big success for Microsoft, many Xbox fans were surprised by the absence of Halo and the studio behind it, 343 Industries.
  • Even though Halo is arguably Microsoft's biggest franchise, it didn't even appear during the Xbox Games Showcase Extended.
  • Phil Spencer addressed this in a new interview, stating that he didn't want to force 343's developers "to talk about their longer-term vision until they’re ready."
  • Earlier this year, 343 was beset by numerous layoffs and leadership changes. Halo Infinite Season 4, the latest release for the company's live service title, is scheduled to release on June 20.

Microsoft's 2023 Xbox Games Showcase on June 11 was quite the show, with the publisher showing off plenty of footage for highly anticipated games like Avowed and Forza Motorsport, revealing brand new projects like inXile's Clockwork Revolution and Compulsion Games' South of Midnight, and blessing everyone with nearly an hour of richly detailed Starfield gameplay overviews. However, Halo — Xbox's biggest franchise — was completely absent from the presentation, even though Halo Infinite Season 4 is scheduled to go live on June 20. Why?

It's a question many Halo fans have been asking this week, especially since the series didn't make an appearance at the extended version of the Xbox Games Showcase on June 13, either. Thanks to a new interview with Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, though, we now have an answer: Xbox has many more first-party games than it used to, and Spencer doesn't want to pressure Halo's developers at 343 Industries to show what's next for the franchise until they're ready to do so.

“I wouldn’t say Halo is of lesser importance, but we have over 20 studios now,” Spencer said. “I’ll go back to the years where I had basically four games — Fable, Forza, Halo, Gears, the four horseman of the apocalypse. We have a lot more games now."

“We’ve been pretty public about the leadership change at 343,” he continued. “You can kind of see that in some of the social things [the studio has] been doing around seasons, but I don’t wanna force them to talk about their longer-term vision until they’re ready. I think you’ll see some pretty cool things coming."

Notably, Xbox Game Studios Head Matt Booty recently said in a separate interview this week that while 343 will continue to make Halo projects, "the team that got us here is probably not the same team that's going to take us forward." When asked if a new Halo game was in development, Booty didn't offer an answer beyond affirming that 343, with potential assistance from other studios, will keep working on the series. 

Earlier this year, 343 underwent several major leadership changes. In the wake of 10,000 Microsoft job cuts that affected a significant number of 343's developers, Head of Creative Joseph Staten left Xbox, with Halo Franchise Director Frank O'Connor departing shortly after. Currently, the studio is led by Pierre Hintze, who previously oversaw the developer's efforts to fix and improve Halo: The Master Chief Collection after its disastrous 2014 launch.

With the challenges 343 has faced, it's not surprising that Phil Spencer wants to let the studio reveal plans for the future of Halo when it's ready to do so. Still, I do find it odd that Microsoft didn't even include the Halo Infinite Season 4 trailer (embedded above) in its extended showcase. The new season is adding the classic fan-favorite Infection game mode, along with two new maps, two new pieces of Equipment, and some balance tweaks.

The Halo Infinite campaign is available with any tier of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass service, and its multiplayer is free-to-play on both Xbox and Windows PC.

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Halo Infinite

Despite its issues, there's plenty to like about Halo Infinite. The core multiplayer gameplay is enjoyable, and since it's free-to-play, there's no barrier to entry. The campaign is fantastic, as it features an excellent story, fun open world gameplay, and plenty of action-packed levels to play through.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.