Halo Infinite's next big update is coming January 30 with a new arena map, a new operation, a free Mark IV Spartan core, and the long-awaited ability to equip shoulder pieces on any armor. 343 showed off the update, which also includes new Covenant items in Forge, in a livestream today. It looks like a nice little followup to the midseason Firefight update in December, though the way 343 talked about the update raised a big question for viewers: where's Season 6?
At the end of the stream, 343 broke the news: there will be no Season 6. Halo Infinite is moving away from seasons.
Instead, 343 will continue to create "Operation" events with shorter 20-tier battle passes that run for four-to-six week periods. While 343 will continue to add to Infinite throughout 2024, the news will be bittersweet for fans who feel Infinite is finally mounting its comeback. It's hard not to read this as the beginning of the end for Infinite support, especially considering community director Brian Jarrard took the opportunity to mention 343's future projects.
"We have a dedicated team working on supporting Halo Infinite and continuing to deliver coming forward, but also, we have additional teams now that are accelerating towards the future working on brand new projects," said Jarrard.
343's scaled back plans could be interpreted as Microsoft throwing in the towel on a live service shooter that never took off the way it hoped. More broadly, I think it signals a developing trend away from hard-defined schedules of the live service model.
Embark Studios recently announced that it won't be releasing a public roadmap or make any promises about The Finals updates. Instead, updates will come when they're ready and Embark hopes players enjoy the surprise. How very 2007. Maybe 343, knowing Halo is probably never going to be Fortnite or Apex Legends big, is reading the room in a similar way. More maps, playlists, and customization updates are coming, but the only thing that's guaranteed is a small Operation pass every six weeks or so.
Halo Infinite's move away from the seasonal model could be the start of a natural dissipation of the live service model that will eventually stretch to many more games. It's tough for a big-budget game to attract a large enough audience to justify adding to it for years, and even the most successful examples like Destiny 2 have struggled to keep it up in perpetuity. Fortnite becoming a platform that encompasses racing and Lego building and more is Epic's way of countering that inertia.
Considering how hard Halo Infinite struggled with its first few seasons, it makes sense for 343 to slowly return to the old ways: releasing a new game every few years that people hopefully like more than the last one. There's a part of me that's annoyed Infinite might never reach its full potential, but another part of me is excited by what a fresh game that learns from Infinite could look like in a few years, and that 2024 could see more developers turn away from a Sisyphean business model that grinds too many games to dust.