Inside 343i There Are Two Wolves:

(a cautionary parable)

Inside 343i there are two wolves.

One of the wolves loves Halo Infinite as a video game and more. They love the fan base and the community and the franchise, and they have been working for years neigh-tirelessly to give us the best game they possibly can. This is the Halo wolf, and this wolf is our friend. While not all their decisions are universally loved, they are doing the best they can to make decisions for OUR benefit, as players of the game and members of the community they’ve been given responsibility of.

The other Wolf loves Halo Infinite as a potentially unlimited money making machine for Microsoft. This is the Microsoft wolf. It doesn’t know or understand Halo, Halo fans, or the Halo community, but it knows they look appetizing. This wolf will bully the Halo wolf, and try to apply everything it knows of “unlimited money making machines” to Halo. It does this without caring about the fans, the community, the developers, or even the game itself.

Like any good fable, the greed of the second wolf will be it’s own undoing- but at what costs? While it forces the Halo wolf into the non-halo related, money-making shapes it’s familiar with, it chews away at the vitality which gave the Halo wolf such clear longevity to begin with. Such an obvious example would be how the Halo Wolf lovingly crafts a system where players can customize their Spartans and be seen regardless of the team they’re on. To “be their own spartan”. The Microsoft Wolf has throttled that at every conceivable point with its fangs of economic predation. Halo Infinite is not dead by any means, but in this state of disharmony its future does not bode well.

The Halo Wolf is making a Halo game that COULD be a Forever game, and that is why the Microsoft Wolf sees profit. But that money has to be made slower and with good will. Making a game “free to play” but charging a monthly(ish) fee to participate in the full experieince of leveling up and customizing (designed to be part of the game): is such an obvious grift it will alienate folks (and has already) without them even needing to understand why.

Every day that Halo Infinite’s economy exists in it’s current state- as the first impression many players will have with it- it loses longevity. It loses people to populate the servers and play with years down the line. I hate to talk in strictly economic terms but it even loses money in the long term, for the sake of short-term gains. I’m not saying 343i shouldn’t try to make money from this game. But how it tries to make money is important. The folks in charge of that element of Halo right now are dangerous to the work of the developers, and dangerous to the fun had by us as players; dangerous to the length of the game’s lifecycle.

Long live the Halo wolf.

PS
One more frustrating example I want to give is regarding Halo Wars 2. It’s near-removal from the recent Waypoint update shows a critical lack of understanding or even care for the Halo community. This is clearly not an action of the Halo Wolf: it is for the sake of bringing Microsofts’ current cash-focus to the forefront. The Microsoft Wolf wants to sell overpriced DLC, but doesn’t realize the Halo Wolf already has it; people even still pay for it by getting Halo Wars 2 and its expansions. Why don’t our Halo Infinite profiles feature cross-game accomplishments, for that? So for example someone can see their opponent has not only their in-game ranks, but a badge indicating they've beaten Halo Wars 2. Thus incentivizing more players to try out another active Halo game, and keep it alive and selling its expansions. (HW2: Awakening the Nightmare DLC is very fun despite being overpriced). Again, I’m not saying that 343i shouldn’t try to make money from Halo Infinite, but hiding HW2 is another example of non-devs smothering longevity and overall profitability despite the supposed the intention and motive of bolstering it. The publishing interests of this game either don’t see their own self-sabotage, or they don’t care because they personally won’t be affected.

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Let’s see if I’m going to have to take out the shotgun to hunt down some Lone Wolf