Seven Halo games on the Xbox 360 will lose their online functionality no sooner than one year from now as 343 moves on to the Infinite future.
343 Industries has announced the end of online services for the entire Halo franchise on the Xbox 360, affecting seven releases across that generation. This announcement comes the same week that the developer talked up the end of the journey of Halo: The Master Chief Collection from console to PC, putting the entire Halo franchise in one place across platforms for the first time. This collection includes all but two of the Xbox 360 Halo games, and both Halo Wars and Halo: Spartan Assault have versions available on Xbox One that would still be functional into the future.
This isn’t the first time that Xbox Live has lost support for legacy titles. Games released on the original Xbox lost their online services five years after the release of the Xbox 360. This includes games released via backward compatibility on consoles starting with Xbox One, which was quite bittersweet in the case of popular games on the console like Crimson Skies and the original Star Wars Battlefront. Individual publishers also have the ability to shutter online services in some cases, with companies like EA regularly shuttering older services only a few years after their initial release. On the flip side, there are still plenty of games from the launch days of the Xbox 360 that still work in 2020.
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In a new announcement posted to Halo Waypoint, 343 Industries announced that all seven Halo games on Xbox 360 would be losing their online services in December 2021, which is a year from now. The company states that this is being done to free up resources as it shifts its focus completely to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo Infinite, and other future projects. The developer also states that the usage of the Xbox 360 games has continued to dwindle as replacements such as MCC released.
343 Industries started this process in the Fall of 2019 with the transfer of millions of user-created maps and game types into The Master Chief Collection. The shutdown will generally only affect the matchmaking and file sharing portions of the games, and the campaign and local multiplayer components will remain untouched. Starting now, the titles will also be removed from sale digitally, although DLC will remain available to download for free for existing owners. The change will also affect those who play the games on Xbox One or Xbox Series X, as Xbox backward compatibility is running the game as if it were an older piece of hardware.
On the one hand, with a modernized rerelease already thriving on current consoles, it does make sense why older Halo titles have become redundant. On the other hand, the removal of any online service is a blow to games preservation and the death of a unique experience that can never be recaptured. There are already several prominent members of the Halo community decrying the loss of a nostalgic experience, but at least the gameplay remains mostly intact on Xbox One.
However, the biggest worry is that if Halo, one of the biggest Xbox franchises around, can go offline, how long does the rest of Xbox 360’s online services realistically have? Furthermore, how big a blow would that be to Xbox’s big backward compatibility selling point? Only time will tell.
Source: Halo Waypoint
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