An incomplete Halo 5

I was wondering earlier today why it annoyed me so much when people defended the lack of content in Halo 5 on the basis of “free DLC.” At face value it seems perfectly acceptable, they’ll add everything back later and we don’t have to pay for it, so why worry about it? But the more I think about it, the more I began to realize that, conceptually speaking, that’s the basis of an Early Access title on steam.

For those who don’t know, Steam (pc games sales platform) has a program called “Early Access.” It allows independent developers to publish unfinished games to the Steam Store in order to fund them. For indies, this is great because it gives them more incentive and money to develop their projects. Where these developers might be out of a job next week, they now have the money to continue developing their game. And that’s pretty frickin cool. However, it can also mean that projects you paid for, projects that made promises, might not always keep those promises. The downside to an early access game is the uncertainty of it, you’re essentially paying for promises that they’ll finish it, but there’s no penalty if they don’t.

Halo 5 appears to be following this business model. The game was bought for full price, but contained 1/10th the content of previous iterations in the series. Now we’re waiting for 343i to add everything back as “Free DLC”, but with no guarantee that we’ll actually see everything they failed to include the first go around. 343i aren’t going to work on Halo 5 forever, they have to work on Halo 6. So there will come a point when they stop updating the game.

There’s no guarantee that 343i will be adding everything they took out of the game back in the future. Sure, we have promises for Forge, and we’ve already received BTB, but beyond that? There’s no word on infection or race, there’s no word on theatre updates or a functioning fileshare like we had 8 years ago. There’s no word on VIP, Territories, Grifball.

Honestly, I don’t like this principle from a triple A dev. It makes sense for an independent developer to release an early access game, they don’t have the backing of a major corporation like Microsoft to fund them. Microsoft needs Halo to push consoles, I have a feeling 343i isn’t exactly strapped for cash.

At the end of the day I believe DLC should be used to add additional content to the game, new gamemodes, new community features and armor, not return content that was missing from the base game, or content that people have come to expect from the series. I’d much rather see Halo 5 launch with the full array of gamemodes and then add things like Ricochet and Invasion as their own “big updates” at a later date than pay for promises that we’ll see infection again. Early access is paying developers in the hopes that they’ll complete the game later, and that’s what Halo appears to have become.

Whether or not that’s a bad thing is up to you. It’s entirely possible that 343i will add everything back and then some, whose to say, and the concept of an early access game isn’t inadvertently bad. I just think that it’s something we should be cautious about going into the future, and not necessarily something we should actively support.

EDIT: TL;DR: Halo 5 seems to be following the business model of a Steam Early Access title, in that you’re paying full price for the promise that the rest of the game will be completed and/or added at a later date (with no repercussions if it’s not). It’s not outright wrong, but I think it’s something we should all be wary of going forward.

343i is going this lazy route now. I can’t wait for Halo 5’s full release on June 2016.

I only read the TL;DR section (sorry!) but I must agree, it does make me a touch uncomfortable, but not terribly, as, personally, I’ve never been disappointed by a Halo game and I trust 343 to make this game truly awesome in the next few months. (I already think it’s awesome mind you). However if they were to fail to deliver, and then Halo 6 went in the same direction? it’d very likely be the first Halo game I wait to buy.

Another flaw that you can and often do run into with early access games made by developers who are self publishing on steam is that there’s no one to enforce deadlines. For better or for worse, publishers hold a whip and keep a pretty tight ship when it comes to release dates. Without them, you can get situations like Killing Floor 2, Tim Schafer’s 3.3 Million Dollar Extravaganza, and Episode 3. It’s not a flaw inherent to early access necessarily, but it’s a frequent comorbidity.

But I’m off base for the main point here, that being that a struggling indie developer needs that money upfront a hell of a lot more than the developer of a AAA franchise responsible for a flagship series of its parent company. I agree with that entirely. Better late than never, sure, but you know what’s even better than late? Being punctual.

It’s pretty terrible how we could have something with such limitless potential for upgrades and seamless addition of content as the internet and instead use it to justify releasing broken and/or half finished games.

> 2533274857577417;2:
> 343i is going this lazy route now. I can’t wait for Halo 5’s full release on June 2016.

I’m not necessarily sure I’d call it the lazy route (I mean, theoretically speaking they’re still getting the work done), but I don’t think it’s necessarily a route we should support either.

> 2533274823519895;4:
> Another flaw that you can and often do run into with early access games made by developers who are self publishing on steam is that there’s no one to enforce deadlines. For better or for worse, publishers hold a whip and keep a pretty tight ship when it comes to release dates. Without them, you can get situations like Killing Floor 2, Tim Schafer’s 3.3 Million Dollar Extravaganza, and Episode 3. It’s not a flaw inherent to early access necessarily, but it’s a frequent comorbidity.

Unless 343i sets out with specific goals that we as a community know about, it’s entirely possible that such a thing could happen in a large development team as well. If they don’t make any promises, they’re not obligated to deliver on anything. Therefore they’ll never miss a deadline. Now seeing as how they plan on working until sometime in 2016, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of updates that bring back or fix features. Whether or not we’ll see a full array of content (+ additional contant that DLC is supposed to be used for) is an entirely different story.

> 2533274823519895;4:
> But I’m off base for the main point here, that being that a struggling indie developer needs that money upfront a hell of a lot more than the developer of a AAA franchise responsible for a flagship series of its parent company. I agree with that entirely. Better late than never, sure, but you know what’s even better than late? Being punctual.
>
> It’s pretty terrible how we could have something with such limitless potential for upgrades and seamless addition of content as the internet and instead use it to justify releasing broken and/or half finished games.

What’s more terrible is the fact that I can see people supporting and/or defending it. I mean off the top of my head, we’ve had three major releases botched in the last two years, released by very high profile developers. Battlefield 4, Assassins Creed Unity and Halo MCC. Now we have Halo 5 releasing essentially as a Barebones with promises that more will be added. And of course there’s Destiny, but I can’t fault them quite so hard for that because that was its stated design from the outset.

Of course there are games that make great use of it too, Valve titles and Minecraft come to mind, but as game development projects get larger and more technical, they also seem to be getting sloppier. Hopefully this isn’t a trend that continues in the future.

> So there will come a point when they stop updating the game.

I think they said the free content stops in June of 2016. Though if that’s only six months of “here’s a new BTB map” then we definitely have a problem.

I’m a pretty huge user of Steam. Own over 100 games on it. I rarely ever see an early-access game go well. Not that there aren’t some amazing exceptions that do end up getting finished and succeeding, but most…for the longest time there was just a ridiculous amount of these kinds of games. Pretty much the whole timeframe between late 2013 and the end of 2014.

Anyways, I think it becomes a lot less acceptable when you go from a small indie studio to a giant triple-A development studio overseen directly by Microsoft of all companies…how exactly does one justify these large studios relying on early access?

> 2533274819302824;6:
> > So there will come a point when they stop updating the game.
>
>
> I think they said the free content stops in June of 2016. Though if that’s only six months of “here’s a new BTB map” then we definitely have a problem.
>
> I’m a pretty huge user of Steam. Own over 100 games on it. I rarely ever see an early-access game go well. Not that there aren’t some amazing exceptions that do end up getting finished and succeeding, but most…for the longest time there was just a ridiculous amount of these kinds of games. Pretty much the whole timeframe between late 2013 and the end of 2014.
>
> Anyways, I think it becomes a lot less acceptable when you go from a small indie studio to a giant triple-A development studio overseen directly by Microsoft of all companies…how exactly does one justify these large studios relying on early access?

You can’t justify these studios reliance on early access. I realize that that is what you are stating, but I just have to say it, you can’t. AAA studios have the budget to create these huge games and shouldn’t need to use early access. Indie developers, sure I understand.

I totally agree. This is unacceptable for a AAA game that’s suppose to be a console seller. Gaming is in a very bad state right now. Can’t believe that savage capitalism slowly infiltrated the last place where I could find some relief from real-life stress and bs and turned gaming into a HUGE cash cow. With each passing game that doesn’t deliever and nothing is done about it (which seems to be becoming the norm), we’re the ones getting laughed at by greedy individuals that are swimming in money. This is sad, sad, sad.

…go check out Destiny - what BungieVI$ION did was they made you pay the full price of 3 games with a promise they’ll fix/complete it eventually, and all of that within the FIRST year
trust me, HALO is fine (;

With a multimillion dollar marketing campaign and millions in NYT bestselling author-penned books backing you up, I would’ve thought they’d have put a little more time and effort into delivering a compelling campaign, a completed game that rivaled any previous installments, and pushed the limits of the Halo brand. Instead all I got was a 25 character download code of regret.

I should have done more research into this game before launch, I wasn’t even expecting to pick it up after Halo 4/MCC broke my spirit. I wish I had waited, because I would much rather have whatever the June 2016 version of Halo 5 awaits.
I will say what’s available at launch kept me entirely satisfied for a time. I’m a huge fan of the original 3 Halo games and to get a multiplayer more based in the roots of Halo is a great experience.
But these updates should just be map packs, tweaks, and small changes. Not adding huge features in such as Forge (Although a 2 month delay for Forge isn’t terrible, I’d rather have a 343 product that works), or gametypes like Infection that help to keep a large portion of the community alive.
What ended up in the game even seemed slightly lazy. I could have sworn the beta had users vote for Empire/Eden and Truth/Regret to see their favorite variant, but in the end we just got all four. And while it’s nice to have more maps, we don’t need 2 sets of maps that are essentially the exact same. 343 really couldn’t put together some more maps to pad out the list in the 3 year development they reported? Halo 3 took 3 years and was able to keep me entirely hooked for more than a few days.
I will say that it’s promising to get big updates monthly for free. Every month until June we can expect something new, and be able to come back and get some fresh experiences. Personally, I find that exciting, even as the game is lacking now. But they should be new experiences, not what many people deem to be necessities for a Halo game.

i want more character backstory in the campaign

Its so terrible how this game has no playlists. Like you had all this time to develop the game and now look what has become of halo. Basically the whole community is upset about mostly the same general things. You cant call us nitpickers because people hate spartan charge and the crappy new maps and lack of content. 343 Knew what they were releasing and i have to say it was such a disappointment for almost all the old school halo fans.

> 2533274850460043;11:
> I should have done more research into this game before launch, I wasn’t even expecting to pick it up after Halo 4/MCC broke my spirit. I wish I had waited, because I would much rather have whatever the June 2016 version of Halo 5 awaits.
> I will say what’s available at launch kept me entirely satisfied for a time. I’m a huge fan of the original 3 Halo games and to get a multiplayer more based in the roots of Halo is a great experience.
> But these updates should just be map packs, tweaks, and small changes. Not adding huge features in such as Forge (Although a 2 month delay for Forge isn’t terrible, I’d rather have a 343 product that works), or gametypes like Infection that help to keep a large portion of the community alive.
> What ended up in the game even seemed slightly lazy. I could have sworn the beta had users vote for Empire/Eden and Truth/Regret to see their favorite variant, but in the end we just got all four. And while it’s nice to have more maps, we don’t need 2 sets of maps that are essentially the exact same. 343 really couldn’t put together some more maps to pad out the list in the 3 year development they reported? Halo 3 took 3 years and was able to keep me entirely hooked for more than a few days.
> I will say that it’s promising to get big updates monthly for free. Every month until June we can expect something new, and be able to come back and get some fresh experiences. Personally, I find that exciting, even as the game is lacking now. But they should be new experiences, not what many people deem to be necessities for a Halo game.

Beautifully written