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Halo Infinite’s live service plan ‘fell short,’ Xbox Games Studios boss says

Matt Booty compared game’s launch to ‘stumbling at the finish line’

a dark-haired bearded man and Master Chief look to the right in Halo Infinite Image: 343 Industries/Xbox Game Studios
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Halo Infinite is nearly a year old, but the memory of the game’s frustrating launchand post-launch period — is still fresh in players’ minds. But Halo fans aren’t the only ones let down by Infinite’s release state; in the Friends Per Second podcast, head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty spoke candidly about the game’s launch frustrations, and how it’s on Microsoft to do better in the future.

Booty described Halo Infinite’s launch as a “classic runner’s mistake of tripping and stumbling as you come across the finish line.” He blames this failure primarily on the pandemic and how it disrupted the development team, which consists of hundreds of people around the world — all working on Halo Infinite. So while he gives kudos to the team for getting the game out at all in 2021, he knows players are frustrated by what could’ve been.

“Shipping a game is just the beginning,” said Booty. “There’s got to be a plan for content.” Post-launch content is something Halo Infinite has really struggled with over the past year. Campaign co-op, split-screen co-op, and the Forge map editor all missed the game’s launch window. Online campaign co-op only recently came to Halo Infinite, with the studio ultimately canceling the split-screen mode — a staple of the Halo series. Forge will launch on Tuesday, nearly a full year since Infinite’s debut.

The campaign and Forge frustrations have been one thing, but Halo Infinite's multiplayer updates have also been few and far between. The game has excellent bones — which landed it high on Polygon’s 2021 Game of the Year list — but without new and exciting content to keep players logging in, it doesn’t stand much of a chance at staying relevant in 2022 and beyond.

But that’s something Booty is hoping to fix. “The burden is on us,” he said. The executive went on to call out some key leadership changeups and team moves that will make updating the game easier as they go.

Halo Infinite had a disappointing year, to say the least. But Booty claims Microsoft is committed to righting the ship, and has already begun to do so. Whether 343 Industries can make good on Booty’s promises — and perhaps more important, when they can make good — still remains to be seen.