With Halo Infinite multiplayer going free-to-play, will Halo once again be a console shifter, two decades on?
Earlier this week, rumours were swirling that Halo Infinite would be free-to-play. Or that it’s multiplayer would be, at least. We don’t tend to report on unsubstantiated leaks at Thumbsticks, but as soon as they’ve got some substance to them? We’ll let you know.
And now we’ve had confirmation – via the official Xbox Twitter account – that the free-to-play rumours about Halo Infinite multiplayer are in fact true.
— Halo (@Halo) July 31, 2020
The tweet also confirms another detail that was floating about, that Halo Infinite will support 120 frames per second on the Xbox Series X.
Ordinarily, we wouldn’t trouble ourselves too much with frame rates, but it’s interesting to note that it specifies “on Xbox Series X” – presumably, that means frame rates will be lower on other platforms, like the Xbox One, Xbox One X, and the rumoured, lower-powered “Xbox Series S” console? That could potentially lead to an unfair advantage for players on Xbox Series X because, as Nvidia’s marketing puts it, “frames win games“.
Halo Infinite’s multiplayer being free-to-play also raises questions about Xbox Live Gold. It’s obvious that games can make good money while being free-to-play – hello, Fortnite Battle Royale – but you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to play an Xbox game online without an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
In recent years, Microsoft has bundled Xbox Live Gold in with its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. That means you get all the benefits of Gold with a massive library of games included for only a few quid more. It makes sense that Xbox Game Pass might replace Xbox Live Gold entirely in the future.
And we know that Microsoft has also been including its titles in Xbox Game Pass at launch. So if Halo Infinite is included in Xbox Game Pass, and you need Game Pass (rather than Xbox Live Gold) to play online, will that truly be free-to-play if you’re getting the entitlement as part of another package? Or will Halo Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer be exempt from online subscription costs, like Fortnite, or even a separate package like Call of Duty’s battle royale mode?
There’s still clarification needed from Microsoft on this one, but to make Halo Infinite’s multiplayer free-to-play – even if that does come with some small print – is still a bold move. It’s been a long time since Halo was the main selling point for Xbox, but those days could be back.