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Here's why Halo Infinite's delay is ultimately a good thing

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

Recently, Microsoft and 343 Industries announced that Halo Infinite has been delayed to 2021 due to developmental challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This news stings a lot for fans of Xbox's flagship franchise, and as a diehard Halo fan myself, the update initially felt like a punch to the gut. We at Windows Central saw a lot of it during the recent gameplay demo and there was a lot of it to like despite some issues, so we're disappointed we won't be able to get our hands on more of it.

However, after thinking on things a bit, I ultimately feel like this delay was the right call for both Halo Infinite and its developers.

Halo Infinite's delay allows more time to implement feedback

Halo Infinite

Source: 343 Industries (Image credit: Source: 343 Industries)

Firstly, Halo Infinite getting more time in the development oven means that 343 Industries has more time to implement the feedback given by fans following the game's official gameplay reveal.

Primarily, people were critical of the game's visuals, citing issues with the game's lighting and texture detailing. While 343 Industries stood by Halo Infinite's art style in a recent blog post while also noting that the demo was shown off on an older build, it also noted that many aspects of the fan feedback have "brought new opportunities and considerations to light that the team is taking very seriously and working to assess." Additionally, the developer acknowledged that "we do have work to do to address some of these areas and raise the level of fidelity and overall presentation for the final game."

343 Industries will likely be making changes to Halo Infinite's graphics based on what Halo fans had to say about the gameplay demo. While it's unfortunate that we won't have the game in our hands come 2020's holiday season, the delay will no doubt give the developers the extra time they need in order to refine Halo Infinite's visuals.

Ensuring polish at launch

Halo Infinite

Source: Xbox Game Studios / 343 Industries (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios / 343 Industries)

Over the years, the mighty Halo franchise has seen a decline in overall popularity due to an increasing amount of fierce competition in the first-person shooter market. However, with its open-ended and exploration-heavy campaign, free-to-play multiplayer, and position as a platform for future Halo content, Halo Infinite looks to be a game that could bring Halo back to the front of the pack. This will only happen, though, if the game launches in the polished, high-quality state that players have come to expect of flagship AAA titles.

We've seen Halo struggle with bugs and server stability issues before — Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) launched in an unacceptable state on the Xbox One back in 2014, and although 343 Industries admirably patched it up in the years that followed, the damage was already done to the game's reputation. Additionally, issues with the PC ports of the MCC games — most notably, Halo 2 Classic's multiplayer — have led to some similar situations.

These issues simply can't happen with Halo Infinite, as the game represents the forseeable future of the Halo franchise on both Xbox Series X and PC. This delay will give 343 Industries time that it needs in order to ensure that Halo Infinite will launch in a polished and stable state, supported by all of the necessary systems and infrastructure that modern AAA games require.

It's true that this means Xbox Series X won't launch with its flagship game, which could pose problems for the console's expected November 2020 release, but in the long-term I think it will be better for Halo Infinite to launch later but with more polish, instead of earlier but potentially crippled by stability problems. It might not be good in the short-term for Microsoft, but it'll ensure a better product for players.

Ultimately, it's the right thing to do for developers and players

Halo Infinite

Source: 343 Industries (Image credit: Source: 343 Industries)

We can analyze the realities all we want, but in the end, delaying Halo Infinite is the right thing to do not only for players but for the health and safety of its developers. In his announcement of Halo Infinite's delay, 343 Industries Studio Head Chris Lee stated that "it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday." This clearly speaks to the fact that developing Halo Infinite from home has proven to be a daunting and stressful task for 343's staff, as it has been for a lot of developers these past few months.

As disappointing as this delay is from a fan perspective, it's crucial that we prioritize the health of developers. The creative minds behind our favorite video games are not robots; they're people, and they're being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic just as much as you and I are.

It's important to note that delays don't always necessarily result in healthier development practices. For example, Naughty Dog employees suffered from intense crunch despite The Last of Us 2's delay, with one developer noting that "People thinking the extension is somehow to relieve stress or the workload on the team are wrong. The first thing that they wanted to reiterate is that we aren't slowing down the pace." However, Lee's statement suggests that Halo Infinite's delay largely stems from concerns about the well-being of 343 Industries staff. We can only hope that Microsoft and 343 Industries' executives do right by the studio's employees.

We've waited five years for Halo Infinite. If we have to wait a little longer so that the game's developers can maintain a healthy state, so be it.

Halo Infinite is currently slated to launch in 2021 on the Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Windows 10 PCs.

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.

26 Comments
  • At least it'll release with ray tracing this time around. Hopefully it's only a few months.
  • "Ensuring polish at launch" It doesn't ensure anything. The game doesn't need polish, the game is basically something out of 2007, if its not completely back to the drawing board than its a waste of time. Its not a good thing in this context, a game that does need to fix things is better off delayed. This isn't a polish problem, the whole foundation of what they are doing is not going to work for a big AAA online title from lack of geometry, art style, animations, the dialogue was horrible and strange with that pilot, textures, lighting, effects, overall gameplay, etc. (you got your click though) Its the new Crackdown 3. "The creative minds behind our favorite video games are not robots; they're people, and they're being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic just as much as you and I are." What? It has nothing to do with covid, the game should have been in its final stages of development in March-April, with polish and bug fixes in the summer and early fall. A delay of a few months isn't going to do much to this title, they need to scrap what they have i.e. looking at years back into development. My next guess is they drop the Xbox One version, but that doesn't really help at this stage... its in development hell.
  • Please Daisy troll some more!
  • The game isn't ready, that's a fact. If you think that game looks like a modern AAA game, you need to get your glasses check. A few more months isn't going to mean jack ****, and jack left town. Its not my freaking fault the game looks like something out of 2006 (and yes it does). There is no magic to where that game goes from looking like a Xbox 360 title to an AAA 2021 titles in a few months - it just isn't going to happen. Getting mad at me is not the problem, its Microsoft and all this consumer stuff they keep failing at - duh. Maybe, just maybe this consumer stuff is just not their thing? The article is kind of bs, because even if you polish a ****, its a ****. This is a **** to anyone that plays or develops modern video games. (for the record I am a debbie downer as to Microsoft and consumer products, and with good reason... they suck at it)
  • Just look att the demo and look att the modern game it's not far away, I don't know what you crying over but if you have this hate just don't buy problem solved.
  • I'm not crying I don't buy software from the silly Microsoft store, no problem there.... just pointing out the obvious to anyone that games in the last 15 years.
  • There are a lot of assumptions here that 343 hasn't earned. They had already announced that ray tracing wasn't going to be ready at launch right after the July event. So, either they're WAY behind on ray tracing or they weren't being upfront with the expectations of the game when it was showcased 2 weeks ago. Regardless, the response from 343 after the gameplay demo didn't instill confidence that they're going to be totally ready for a short delay. I suspect we'll either get a Q1 launch that still has a lot of hiccups or it's going to be a massive delay that really hurts the image of 343, which is already struggling in that department. As for the "they don't have to crunch," it's more making excuses on the back-end and dismissing accountability. Halo games have traditionally released on a 3-year cycle. Halo Infinite was already afforded a 5-year cycle. Even with a massively longer time to prepare, they couldn't put together a product good enough to fake a good presentation of 8 minutes of gameplay. To me, this isn't just "343 isn't overworking people like other studios." It seems like the people at the top are doing a really poor job of keeping things moving forward well. It feels like time has passed them by, despite having more of it than ever before. How do you get two extra years and manage to be so far behind any of your previous work with that comfort? I honestly don't buy the "these things can't happen at launch" for Halo Infinite. Remember the disaster that was Halo: TMCC? It took YEARS after launch to produce a functional title. They even pre-sold TMCC on Steam with a staggered rollout and managed to come with massively buggy games when they rolled them out with their pre-release sales money. 343 hasn't exactly proven it's going to use this time wisely and give us a problem-free launch when Halo's finally out. I suspect Infinite will ultimately come out and still be behind the rest of the AAA gaming market in launch polish because 343 has done nothing to prove they'll do better than that, as much as I wish this game the best.
  • They were also making a brand new engine in that 5 year development cycle.
  • So what? They don't have the exact same people doing both jobs. They can obviously manage art design and story development just fine while that work was done, and even probably use existing dev tools to design assets and model things they were later able to port over. The engine thing is a tired excuse. They're not the only development team to build new engines. Battlefield came out with the new Frostbite engine years ago and didn't have the same lag time between releases, as one popular example. It's not as if they had to sit on their hands and wait on any game work until the engine was ready. Even if you DID want to sell the idea that the engine took 2 years and fully roadblocked any development progress, they're still going to have the longest gap between major releases ever.
  • That's never how it's worked. When building a new engine that is more ready for next Gen features and beyond every game development is longer. Always has been. Whether it's the new engine for GT5 that made that development 3 years longer than GT4 as an example. Rockstar essentially make a new engine for every game. Which is why there is such a long development between games for them. And open world Engine builds take the longest. Linear titles tend to be easier to develop as not everything your developing has to be interactive ( or that you can travel to). It's been common place for years new engine builds increase Dev time. Especially open world.
  • I did think they'd do this. Better to wait. Does leave no Xbox game studios game ready for launch.
  • Still quite a decent launch lineup: Call of the Sea
    Gears Tactics
    Tetris Effect Connected
    The Ascent
    The Falconeer
    The Medium
    Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  • Considering how State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves released half-assed to lukewarm reviews as a result. I'm not surprised, and I'm glad they're delaying this.
    These releases devalued the IPs so much you can find keys for them dirt cheap on ebay. But Forza is still like $50 everywhere lmao. And its the only game they didn't screw up only to fix later on.
    And lets not even mention Crackdown 3
  • Sea Of Thieves is an MMO type game. In that it was always supposed to be added to. There is a reason it has 15 million + players as of March this year. Noone cares about reviews for online persistant games. Word of mouth is key. And word of mouth for Sea Of Thieves has been stellar. It's one of the most played exclusives this Gen.
  • Only the biggest Xbox hater could spin this into a negative (scans comments spots Daisy M aka Guest_aotf) oh speak of the devil!
  • Lol of course he's a delusional Sony Sheep! He seems to have a lot of time to write or copy/paste essays for his comments and replies. Probably bored with those single player exclusives.
    It's funny because he was complaining about how games are rushed out, but now Halo has been delayed and he still complains. Just a Sony fanatic.
  • Oh please can you stfu. I don't know who that Daisy is.
    And if you can't believe me just ask Jez or someone else to compare our IPs.
    But it's hilarious that you get upset when there is criticism.
    Nibblo aka random generic MS fanboy, if you took 5 minutes and saw the other topic I actually said it was good news... lol
  • Yeah I'll be honest. Guest hasn't posted anything I've read to say this is bad. It's a good direction for MS to take. A delayed game can be good. A rushed game can only be bad.
  • For once that is right!
  • I'm all for calling people out. I have called Guest out myself. But it's wise to make sure they have actually done it first. Hehe. Otherwise it just gives people who visit sites like this for Xbox gamers more ammo.
  • To be honest, I wasn’t even concerned over the graphics. Halo isn’t a breath taking game design wise. It’s always been about the story and the multiplayer advancements. While they have obviously done great at design, it’s never been the Star Wars Battlefront of graphics design. However my wife who knows nothing about halo, when watching the video announcement a few weeks ago, said the game looked kinda cheesy in its design style, almost animated instead of realistic. Which is pretty too, the design style looks like a step in the wrong direction. Halo 4 and 5 weren’t great either though, so imo it’s really just a 343i design issue. Bungie’s Halo 1, 2, & 3 all improved on each other visually and had a realistic design style. Especially 2 & 3.
  • They should have done a Halo 5.5 instead of going with Halo Wars 2 to give breath to the saga. To be honest a 6 years cycle in between major game release is not sustainable
  • This is actually great news. Let them finish the game. Release the game when it's finished. Don't let hardware launch decide when a game needs to be released or not...
    There is no reason to be upset if gaming is what matters to you.
    From what I saw the most of the people I've seen upset are fanboys who lose ammo in their silly console war fight.
    They would rather want unfinished Halo launching to boost about Serie X's lineup compare to the competition than have a complete Halo releasing little later... But that's not a surprise for me, these people are first company fanboys before being gamers...
  • Well said. I just hope that the game isn't 'beyond repair' as some have said. The Digital Foundry video showed that the game actually is better in the graphics department than it was portrayed. Hopefully they fix the lighting with ray tracing and the SSD solves the popping. At this point I just want to play a fun Halo again, its been many, many years. It doesn't need to look next gen for me, its a first year game after all. It does need to be fun and have content, and not just MP content.
  • I really don't think there is anything to repair. It's clear it's an Xbox One game first and foremost. Starting development in 2015. First building a new Engine that is scalable to new graphics features from next Gen RDNA 2 and Ampere on PC. It's much more for me that they have spent the 5 years making this work on an Xbox One at 60fps. And I could probably wager a guess that when they recieved Series X devkits at the end of 2019 early 2020 that along with finishing the gane they just haven't had time to take much advantage of the Series X. So rather than rush development, they have opted for delay. Which will allow the team to properly take advantage of next Gen graphical techniques like Full Ray Tracing etc. This is the 3rd Halo gane 343 are making. Technically speaking both 4 and 5 were sound games. With high framerates and huge battles. 4 got praise for good storytelling but poor multi-player. 5 got praise for multi-player but poor storytelling. But in terms of technical capability there has never been an issue at 343. And I don't have any reason to not think 343 will make sure Infinite is technically sound also. People tend to forget Halo is quite different from the usual Exclusives that are made between Xbox and Sony. Halo as always required its engine to be smooth at the same time be able to have huge battles with 50+ enemies onscreen at any given time. With Infinite that's an even harder challenge for the Xbox One due to its limitations. Especially considering they are now open world mechanics. Big vast areas to explore with no load times. I've no doubt Covid 19 has played a role by working from home. Slowed much of the process down. And if Infinite was already going to the wire without Covid, it probably has delayed the team by 5 or 6 months. I'm sure when it launches it will be played by 10s of millions. And the fanbase will be very happy.
  • Perfectly stated. People also tend to forget MS exclusives include a multiplayer component whereas Sony's biggest exclusives don't. More components equals more time, work, man hours etc. One of the great things about multiplayer games is they always stay fresh and constant with updates, leveling, playlist changes, different players etc. Whereas single player only games get boring fast. Plus add the covid factor and that definitely didn't help.