Microsoft and 343 Industries are making the decision to delay the launch of Halo Infinite to 2021. 343 Industries says the delay is related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as employees have shifted to work from home and development of large games has been particularly difficult for many in the industry.
“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,” says Chris Lee, studio head for Halo Infinite. “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. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.”
It’s a decision that Microsoft’s Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, did warn may happen earlier this year. “I’d say the bigger unknown is probably the game production, just being honest,” said Spencer in May. “Game production is a large scale entertainment activity now, you have hundreds of people coming together, building assets, working through creative.”
Bungie, developer of Destiny 2, also recently delayed the company’s next big Destiny 2 expansion to November 10th, citing the difficulties of development during the pandemic. Naughty Dog also cited the pandemic for a delay to the launch of The Last of Us Part II earlier this year.
Still, Microsoft did push ahead and demo Halo Infinite during its Xbox Game Studios event just a few weeks ago. At the time, Microsoft and 343 Industries were still publicly committing to launching Halo Infinite alongside the new Xbox Series X console, which is now due to hit store shelves in November.
It’s not clear what changed over the past few weeks to force Microsoft to delay Halo Infinite to 2021. The reception to the game has been mixed, though, with some criticizing the graphics and visuals in the game. 343 Industries responded to the criticisms, admitting that “we do have work to do to address some of these areas and raise the level of fidelity and overall presentation for the final game.”
With no clear Halo Infinite release date in sight, except a 2021 release, 343 Industries will now have plenty of time to avoid the typical game crunch and address fan feedback in the months ahead.