'Halo Infinite' delayed to 2021, development impacted by COVID-19

Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Microsoft has delayed Halo Infinite into 2021, citing developmental challenges.

Previously, Halo Infinite was slated to launch in the Holiday season of 2020, alongside Microsoft's next-gen Xbox Series X. Microsoft has reiterated that Halo Infinite's delay will not impact the console itself. Xbox Series X is confirmed to launch in November 2020, alongside the full library of Xbox One backward compatible titles and games such as The Medium.

In a blog post on Halo Waypoint, Microsoft offered some detail on Halo Infinite's delay, and how 343i has been impacted by Microsoft's wider corporate work-from-home policy, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today I want to share an important Halo Infinite development update with the community. We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision.The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.We know this will be disappointing to many of you and we all share in that sentiment. The passion and support the community has shown over the years has been incredible and inspiring. We wanted nothing more than to play our game with the community this holiday. The extra time will let us finish the critical work necessary to deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever at the quality we know our fans expect.Thank you for your support and understanding.

While it may sting a little that the Xbox Series X won't drop with its big-name exclusive at launch, ensuring Halo Infinite launches in a high-quality state is of the utmost importance. Halo has declined in mainstream popularity in recent years and certainly isn't the trendy game played by youngsters as it once was. Halo Infinite will launch with a free-to-play multiplayer component in addition to its premium campaign experience, set in a wider sandbox with a broader scope. It has every chance to capture mainstream attention with this formula, but only if it ships with the quality expected of a next-gen AAA franchise.

When Microsoft revealed Halo Infinite the Craig meme became an overnight viral hit, initially as a negative commentary on the game's visuals, which return Halo to the vibrant, stylized format of the original trilogy. The way the game looks has certainly been a talking point among fans of the franchise and the wider community in general, and hopefully, this delay will help 343i elevate the game a little to meet expectations.

Halo Infinite certainly wasn't the first game delayed by Covid-19, and it most likely won't be the last either. But the stakes are high for Halo, and I feel like shipping it in a sub-standard state isn't an option at this stage of the game. What do you think? Hit the comments, let us know.

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Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!