BY 343 INDUSTRIES – 12/18/2020
Here at 343 Industries, our teams are wholly focused on the future of Halo. From significant updates and improvements to MCC and the move to PC, to the future of the franchise with Halo Infinite – we’re working to deliver great experiences for years to come. The future looks very bright for Halo fans and we’re incredibly excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
To date, we’ve juggled future-facing work and priorities with continued upkeep of Halo’s Xbox 360 legacy services. Maintaining these legacy services today requires significant time and resources which directly impacts the studio’s ability to support current and future projects like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo Infinite.
Meanwhile, the month over month usage of these legacy Xbox 360 game services continues to dwindle, creating an even greater imbalance between the time and work required to maintain vs. the net impact to the overall Halo community. That’s not to say we don’t value and care about everyone who plays Halo – we absolutely do. But, as with any business, our teams must continually weigh needs against available resources (time, people, expertise, etc.) and prioritize on areas and opportunities that yield the greatest impact. As these games continue to age, and as improved modern replacements for many of these experiences have moved to the forefront, less and less people are investing time in the original legacy titles. Digital sales have greatly slowed and physical sales of these legacy Xbox 360 titles were halted back in 2018.
Every cycle spent maintaining and supporting Xbox 360 legacy services is time and energy not spent on the future of Halo. To that end – today we are announcing our intention to sunset our Halo Xbox 360 legacy services to fully focus on the future of the franchise. In approximately ONE YEAR, December 2021, online services for legacy Halo Xbox 360 titles will be discontinued. Owners of these titles will still be able to play these games indefinitely, however, certain online features and experiences, particularly online matchmaking, will be limited or disabled.
We are intentionally moving slowly and deliberately with a multi-phase approach to provide our players with plenty of advance notice:
Phase One – Fall 2019
- One-time migration of over 6M pieces of Halo Xbox 360 Legacy UGC data to Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Phase Two – December 2020 (WE ARE HERE)
- Initial notification to players
- Digital sales of Halo Xbox 360 titles are halted
- *Halo Xbox 360 DLC can still be acquired at no cost
Phase Three – 2021
- Continued messaging and reminders throughout the year across Halo channels
Phase Four – December 2021 *(TBD, no sooner than 1 year from the date of today’s blog)
- Halo Xbox 360 legacy services are turned off
Continuing to evolve and expand MCC while bringing our ambitious vision for Halo Infinite to life is our top priority and stepping away from the day to day upkeep and hurdles of these aging services will empower the team to stay laser focused on our most critical future-facing endeavors.
As noted above, this is just the beginning – and we’ll continue to message and remind our community of next year’s sunsetting in the coming months. For now, no action is required other than taking note. We would like to also flag that as these services continue to age and back-end work transpires, players may encounter intermittent disruptions. If we anticipate any work items will result in specific service interruptions along the way, we’ll be sure to get the word out.
Please see below for more specific details and answers to some frequently asked questions. We truly appreciate the longstanding support from our community across these Xbox 360 experiences and look forward to embarking on a new chapter together as we continue to evolve MCC and jump into Halo Infinite together in 2021. Stay tuned to Halo Waypoint and Halo social channels for ongoing updates.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT DOES “SUNSETTING HALO XBOX 360 GAME SERVICES” MEAN?
It means that at the end of next year, 343 Industries will be turning off the aging back end legacy services that power some Halo Xbox 360 game features. While these games will still be playable, features and experiences that require online services will be reduced or disabled.
WHICH GAMES ARE AFFECTED?
The following Halo Xbox 360 titles will be impacted when we sunset online services late next year:
- Halo: Reach
- Halo 4
- Halo 3
- Halo 3: ODST
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
- Spartan Assault
- Halo Wars
DOES THIS ALSO APPLY TO ‘BACK COMPAT’ VERSIONS OF THESE GAMES ON XBOX ONE / XBOX SERIES X/S?
Yes – even via back-compat play on a newer console, the underlying software is still the original Xbox 360 content and thus still relies on legacy online services for some functionality. The player experience once we sunset services will be the same regardless of whether you’re playing on an Xbox 360 or via back compat.
WHEN WILL XBOX 360 ONLINE SERVICES BE DISCONTINUED?
Services for these Halo Xbox 360 titles will be disabled no sooner than one year from today.
CAN I STILL PLAY MY HALO XBOX 360 GAMES AFTER THESE XBOX 360 SERVICES HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED?
Yes! Anyone who owns these titles will still be able to access and play them after services have been turned off. However, some experiences and functionality will be reduced or removed.
WHAT FUNCTIONALITY IS IMPACTED ONCE THESE SERVICES ARE TURNED OFF?
Please see the chart below for a breakdown of each game what will be affected once online services are disabled. Items with a checkmark indicate no change and full functionality remains. Items with a red “X” are features that rely on legacy services and will no longer be available once we flip the switch in December 2021. In the case of Achievements, the impact will vary by title as any that specifically require matchmaking and challenges will no longer be obtainable. Similarly, some older Halo Xbox 360 games also have legacy Avatar awards tied to certain in-game activities and any that rely on matchmaking or challenges will no longer be awarded.
DOES THIS HAVE ANY IMPACT ON HALO: REACH, HALO 4, HALO 3, HALO 3: ODST, OR HALO: CEA WITHIN HALO: THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION?
No. The Halo titles within MCC have been rebuilt and remastered to leverage totally different, modernized services and will not be affected by this sunsetting.
WHAT ABOUT HALO WARS: DEFINITIVE EDITION?
Halo Wars: DE (on Xbox One and PC) will not be impacted by the Xbox 360 services sunsetting.
I STILL WANT TO PURCHASE A COPY OF THESE ORIGINAL XBOX 360 TITLES. WHAT CAN I DO?
Officially, retail sales of these Xbox 360 Halo titles were halted quite some time ago. As of this announcement today, official digital sales are being discontinued per internal policy. All of these games, with the exception of Spartan Assault, now exist in newer, modernized forms which offer improved experiences. Please note that applicable DLC for Halo Xbox 360 titles can still be obtained at no cost.
I JUST BOUGHT A DIGITAL COPY OF ONE OR MORE OF THESE GAMES. NOW WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
We thank you for your support and hope you enjoy your experiences. Online services and full functionality for these Halo Xbox 360 titles will still be in effect for at least another full year. For questions or additional assistance with title purchases, please visit support.xbox.com.
DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING IN ANTICIPATION OF THIS SUNSETTING NEXT YEAR?
If you’re still chasing any outstanding Achievements that require online services (i.e. matchmaking or challenge-based), you should plan to wrap that up before December 2021. Additionally, please note that where applicable, legacy file share content will also no longer be accessible once services are disabled.