Halo Infinite's player retention is sharply declining, but why?

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

What you need to know

  • Halo Infinite's player count has fallen sharply since its launch period late in 2021.
  • The game has a variety of serious issues, including a lack of the content that Halo fans have come to expect, shallow customization options, a controversial microtransactions shop, poor performance on PC, a rampant cheating problem, and a severe issue with ranked matchmaking.
  • Recent and upcoming fixes and adjustments have alleviated fan concerns over these problems, but many improvements are still needed.

While Halo Infinite rocketed out of the gate with rave reviews and a massive concurrent player count of 200k on Steam on its launch day, the game's player retention has sharply declined over the course of the last two months. Despite the fact that 20 million players have played Halo Infinite in total, many of these players haven't stuck with the game for long and have already moved on to other titles. The game is no longer in Xbox's top five most played games list (it sits at sixth place under Roblox at the time of writing), and on Steam, it typically hovers between 10-20k concurrent players — a small fraction of what the player count looked like a couple months ago.

So, why is this happening? Why is a new Halo game with strong core gameplay mechanics and a free-to-play, no barrier to entry model struggling to retain its player base? There are a variety of reasons.

For starters, Halo Infinite is lacking a lot of the content that most players have come to expect from the franchise. There are only a handful of playlists and game modes available, and many staple Halo modes like Infection, Grifball, King of the Hill, Action Sack, Team Doubles, Team Snipers, and more are nowhere to be found. The game also only has three Big Team Battle maps, which often makes the beloved social mode feel stale after a few matches. Campaign co-op and the Forge map creation tool — both of which are considered crucial elements of the Halo experience — aren't being added until later in 2022. Co-op is expected to launch in May 2022 at the start of Season 2, while the developers are planning to add Forge three months later when Season 3 begins.

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

Fans have also been vocal about their disappointment with Halo Infinite's customization and monetization systems. Many of the game's customization options are unacceptably shallow and restrictive, and Halo Infinite's microtransactions shop has been heavily criticized for charging high prices and offering little value. The developers have recently made some improvements to the shop, thankfully, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

Halo Infinite on PC also simply isn't good enough, as many players (yours truly included) have reported a myriad of both major and minor issues with the PC version of the game. Everything from terrible framerates and severe instances of screen tearing to infinite loading screens, texture stretching bugs, and desync with the game's servers has made the game nigh-unplayable for many PC players, regardless of whether or not they're using powerful hardware or updated drivers.

PC players using cheats have also run rampant throughout the game's servers for months due to Halo Infinite's ineffective anti-cheat, and while a fix for the issue is supposedly coming later this month, the cheating problem has gotten out of hand and hackers have already driven countless players away. The hacking epidemic affects Xbox players, too, as there's currently no way for players to disable crossplay.

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

Finally, fans also recently discovered a severe issue with Halo Infinite's ranked matchmaking. The game's matchmaker takes your performance in social and practice modes like Big Team Battle and Bot Bootcamp into account when matching you with other players in the competitive playlist, giving you highly-skilled opponents if you got a lot of kills in these playlists. Conversely, you'll be given less-skilled opponents if you perform poorly in these modes, which has led some players to intentionally lose social games to make ranked play easier for themselves. It's clear that this is not a healthy matchmaking system for Halo Infinite's competitive multiplayer, and it needs to be adjusted sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, Halo Infinite simply isn't in an acceptable state right now, and the game is losing players at a rapid pace because of it. Halo Infinite's excellent core mechanics give it the potential to become one of the best Xbox games as well as one of the best PC games, too. Without the content, customization options, quality performance, and anti-cheat measures that fans expect from modern shooters, though, Halo Infinite will fail to capitalize on that potential. Hopefully the developers are able to turn this ship around.

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.