Halo: The Master Chief Collection PC team talks cross-play, Xbox Play Anywhere

Halo 2
Halo 2 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Earlier this month Microsoft revealed a PC release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, shifting its six-piece compilation away from Xbox One after five years. With the iconic first-person shooter a long-established exclusive of home consoles, Halo: MCC on PC births new potential for the series, kicking off with Halo: Reach.

Details on Halo: The Master Chief Collection's PC release remain scarce, with developer 343 Industries yet to commit beyond a debut "later this year." Work remains underway on porting the series, with the new Halo Insider Program aiming to ease the transition with community support. However, the studio is starting to discuss key features; namely cross-play and Xbox Play Anywhere support.

Halo 2: Anniversary

Halo 2: Anniversary (Image credit: 343 Industries)

Speaking during the Halo Championship Series (HCS) Invitational, 343 Industries members provided insight into ongoing work on the project. According to Halo Community Director, Brian Jarrard, cross-play remains a topic the team "wants" to make happen; but is focusing on releasing its PC versions "the right way." It indicates that while open to the concept, cross-play isn't in development for launch day.

I think people have asked a lot about cross-play. And I think there's two different discussions there. I should say on PC, you're going to get the same great experience regardless of which store you buy it from, right? [We] want players to have a choice there. Certainly, whether you pick it up on the Windows Store or Steam, you'll play together, that's not a problem.The real question on people's mind is can I play Xbox against PC? And truth be told right now, we are really focused on making sure that we can bring these games to PC in the right way. But the team would love to hear feedback on this and as we get further down the road, it's something I think we're going to have to evaluate, and if it's something that the community wants and makes sense, I think the team wants to make it happen. But right now, we really need to focus on getting these PC products out the right way.

Halo 3

Halo 3 (Image credit: Bungie)

Further expanding, Bonnie Ross, studio head at 343 Industries, detailed its current plans surrounding Xbox Play Anywhere. While stating the title predates Microsoft's cross-purchasing initiative between Xbox One and Windows 10, the team is exploring "appreciation and recognition" for existing fans.

I think one of the questions we've gotten is will MCC PC support Xbox Play Anywhere. And first off I wanted to say, we so appreciate all the support we've had from Xbox One community with MCC, and we're obviously bringing Reach to MCC. And while MCC shipped before the XPA Play Anywhere [program], we are exploring ways to make sure we show our appreciation and recognition for the support we've had from the amazing fans on MCC. And we'll have more to announce once we get closer to launch.

While a vague response, Ross hasn't ruled out Xbox Play Anywhere functionality, still promising rewards for existing owners. The team isn't committing – but is clearly aware of community demand.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is set for its PC debut in 2019, with the Halo Insider Program promising early access in coming months. If you can't wait, there's no better time to pick up its Xbox One counterpart.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.