As bizarre of a year as 2020 has been, it's also been exciting seeing the leadup to the launches for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Between both Sony and Microsoft's big conferences, showcases, and reveals, it makes up slightly for the loss of E3 and countless other industry events due to COVID-19. With both consoles set for a launch this holiday season, both parties are gearing up their exclusive catalogs for release day. Microsoft's most prolific and hyped launch title for the Series X was Halo Infinite. You'll note my wording there; sadly, we've got some bad news in the midst of all this excitement. Halo Infinite has now been delayed until an unspecified point sometime in 2021. This doesn't change the launch timing for the Series X, naturally, but it does mean Microsoft is losing their most hyped launch title for the next generation.

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The news was dropped on Halo's official blog, which sees developer 343 Industries explaining the reasoning behind the decision. "We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision," the post reads. "The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year." The post goes on to acknowledge how hard 343 has been working on the game, and that despite these new challenges, the studio has refused to enter crunch time, saying: ["It's] not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday." It's unfortunate timing, but understandable considering the circumstances. COVID has deeply impacted the entire world, and one of the industries that's rang truest is the gaming industry.

At the same time as this announcement, Microsoft went on to narrow down a specific launch window for Xbox Series X: November. Before, it was simply in the nebulous 'holiday season' territory. With a specific month now in mind, it likely won't be long before Sony follows suit. No fully specific price points or release dates have been revealed for either camp yet. Recently, Xbox head Phil Spencer took to a virtual Animal Crossing: New Horizons talkshow to discuss Infinite's delay and Xbox's dedication to making the launch library the best it can be without its flagship title. In it, Spencer revealed that Microsoft had originally considered splitting Infinite into multiple parts in order to meet with the console launch timing. In the end, both they and 343 decided it would be better to deliver the full experience in one go, as bummed as it might make the fans.

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So, for the time being, Halo Infinite is set to launch sometime in 2021. As the team gets closer to finishing it fully, hopefully, a more solid date will reveal itself. Recently, the team revealed Infinite's multiplayer will be entirely free-to-play, ditching the Xbox Live Gold requirement present with most Xbox multiplayer games. Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch sometime in November, and with Infinite now on the back burner, Microsoft has taken to showcasing the other 50-some games that will be available right out of the gate. All of this just makes me wonder what other kinds of bad development-related news we have to brace ourselves for as COVID rages onwards.

Tanner
Tanner

Tanner is a freelance writer. He enjoys all things video games, particularly the weirder ones, and can often be found drinking coffee and trying to get through his backlog.

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