343 Industries has announced that it will be sunsetting (turning off) Halo Xbox 360 game services come December 2021 at the earliest.
“The future looks very bright for Halo fans and we’re incredibly excited about the opportunities that lie ahead,” says the developer in a blog posted on Dec. 18. “To date, we’ve juggled future-facing work and priorities with continued upkeep of Halo’s Xbox 360 legacy services. Maintaining these legacy services today requires significant time and resources which directly impacts the studio’s ability to support current and future projects like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo Infinite.”
As a result of this and the dwindling month over month usage of legacy Xbox 360 game services, the company has decided to fully prioritize available resources on the franchise’s future. In approximately one year, around December 2021, online services for legacy Halo Xbox titles will be discontinued. The impacted games are:
- Halo: Reach
- Halo 4
- Halo 3
- Halo 3: ODST
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
- Spartan Assault
- Halo Wars
Owners of these games will still be able to play them — however, online features and experiences, such as online matchmaking, will be either reduced or disabled. While Halo Xbox 360 DLC can still be acquired at no cost, digital sales of Halo Xbox 360 titles have been halted as of the time of this announcement. 343 Industries will dedicate time to reminding players of this throughout 2021 so that it isn’t a surprise when the legacy services are turned off once December 2021 arrives.
“Continuing to evolve and expand MCC while bringing our ambitious vision for Halo Infinite to life is our top priority,” continues 343 Industries. “Stepping away from the day to day upkeep and hurdles of these aging services will empower the team to stay laser focused on our most critical future-facing endeavors.”
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The change will also apply to backward compatibility versions of these games on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. This is because “the underlying software is still the original Xbox 360 content and thus still relies on legacy online services for some functionality.”
In the blog post is included a handy chart, which serves as a breakdown for each game and which functionalities will be affected once the online services are disabled. This process will not impact Halo: Reach, Halo 4, Halo 3: ODST, or Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary within Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The titles included in this collection “have been rebuilt and remastered to leverage totally different, modernized services.” Halo Wars: Definitive Edition on Xbox One and PC will also not be affected by the Xbox 360 services sunsetting.
Again: in the case you just bought a digital copy of one or more of the games this change will affect, you have at least one full year of online functionality. Any Achievements that require online services should be chased before December 2021 to be safe.
Earlier in December, 343 Industries confirmed that the plan is for Halo Infinite to be released in the fall of next year, a full year from when it was originally set to launch. The game was meant to launch alongside the Xbox Series X|S, but was delayed in August.