343 Plans to Sunset Halo's Online Services on Xbox 360 Next Year
Well, this truly feels like the end of an era. While it is indeed 2020, and we're already on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the era of the Xbox 360 and games like Halo 3 and Halo 4 don't feel that long ago, do they? Alas, they're getting pretty old now, and they've had a very fruitful life. In a post made by Halo series developer 343 Industries the other day, the company revealed their intentions to sunset multiple Halo games' online services and functionality on Xbox 360 late next year. Their goal in announcing it now is to give Halo fans plenty of heads up, that way everyone can finish up what they want to do and enjoy the games online modes one last time before they're shuttered for good.
"That's not to say we don't value and care about everyone who plays Halo - we absolutely do," the post explains. "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." That last sentence is referring specifically to newer remastered versions of these older games, like those found in the Halo Master Chief Collection. From a business perspective, it doesn't make much sense to keep running and maintaining services like these when better ones already exist for the same games.
The titles that will be affected include Halo Wars, Spartan Assault, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo 4, and Halo: Reach. Once the change goes into effect, this will include both the original Xbox 360 versions and those played on newer hardware through Microsoft's backwards compatibility. The only way to enjoy them going forward from that point will be through things like the aforementioned Master Chief Collection. Matchmaking is the big thing here, but other things will be affected too, such as filesharing, player customization, and online records. Additionally, 343 recommends going after any outstanding Achievements you may want to get before the time is up. Naturally, all of these games can still be played and enjoyed after this point; they'll just have some reduced functionality.
According to 343, their plan is to discontinue these services no sooner than December of 2021. This has a TBD by it though, so this date may be pushed into 2022 if they decide it should. For now, though, expect the holidays of 2021 unless you hear differently. You can see the entire post explaining it all on Halo Waypoint, where 343 covers some other frequently asked questions about the services and how they'll be impacted. There's a lot of useful info there, so don't miss out on it. And in the meantime, I think it's safe to say many Halo fans will be enjoying their online sessions with their buddies in these classic titles while they still can. This time always rolls around for games that have built large multiplayer communities, but it never hits any less hard when it does. Time marches on.