Could Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer Be Free-to-Play?
A new leak points to Halo Infinite breaking the mold with a free-to-play multiplayer model
While 343 Industries has remained tight-lipped about Halo Infinite’s multiplayer component, a European online retailer looks to have let slip some major details about what that multiplayer might look like.
No, we still don’t have any gameplay or anything of the sort, but according to Smyths Toys website, Infinite will break new ground for not just the Halo franchise, but blockbuster multiplayer games in general. We have to take this with a grain of salt, of course, but on the Xbox Series X landing page of their website, it states that Halo Infinite will feature “a groundbreaking free-to-play multiplayer experience.”
We’ve seen plenty of free-to-play battle royale games come out over the last few years, but we’ve yet to see a major AAA title like Halo make their multiplayer — which is essentially half of the final product — completely free for everyone. Not only will this (if true) boost the hell out of sales for the Xbox Series X, but it could set an industry precedent that changes how we consume multiplayer games from here on out.
Let’s first look at the impact this will have on just the Series X alone. Releasing what is perhaps the biggest component of a Halo game (for a large number of people anyway) for free is insane. There are many people out there who haven’t touched a Halo campaign across the seven games released in the series since 2001, but have poured thousands of hours into the multiplayer. Halo multiplayer is one of the most beloved experiences of being an Xbox owner of every console generation. This game set the standard for what a great console shooter could be. Giving literally anyone who owns a Series X the ability to play this portion of the game to its fullest would be a major selling point for the new console.
Halo Infinite was already a huge selling point since it was going to be part of Game Pass Ultimate, allowing players to forgo spending the full $60 price tag on the game and gain access to it on launch as part of the $15/month subscription fee. But with this rumored method of delivering the multiplayer experience, Microsoft would be taking this a step further. Anyone looking to upgrade to the Series X with the intention of playing Infinite’s multiplayer would only have to focus on the console’s asking price and that’s it. No extra purchase needed to play their favorite game.
But this move would honestly go beyond just Xbox and Microsoft. It would set a massive precedent. We’ve seen Activision and Infinity Ward release a free battle royale, Warzone, with Call of Duty Modern Warfare earlier this year, but free-to-play battle royales are pretty much the norm these days. Straight up multiplayer is always bundled in with the full release of a given title, Call of Duty included. That could all change with this (possible) move, though.
Should Microsoft and 343 actually pull the trigger on this, other developers and publishers might have their hands forced, leading more games to follow suit in the next generation.
Quite honestly, it feels like this is a move that should have happened long ago. Just using Call of Duty as the most adjacent example, Infinity Ward already uses a seasonal model to add in new content complete with everyone’s favorite new fad, the battle pass. Every few months, new maps and weapons are added in with the option to spend money to speed up your progress or gain even more items. With everyone already spending money for each of these seasons already, it makes sense to just give the content — in this case, the multiplayer — away for free.
In Halo Infinite’s case, it’s clear that the campaign and any future story DLCs would still require a full purchase, allowing 343 to still monetize things for those who want their story fix. They could even include the Forge and Firefight under that paid umbrella to sweeten that pot even more for that segment of the player base. It just seems like a massive win-win for everyone.
Speaking of wins, I forgot to even touch on the other big portion of this leak. While 343 has so far only really talked about shooting for a resolution of 4k/60 FPS for Infinite, this leak says that we can enjoy this game at 120 FPS, which is unheard of for a console game. It’s possible that this could be a multiplayer-only feature where the resolution is bumped down to 1080p in order to up the framerate, which is what hardcore multiplayer care about most, or even a similar setting for the campaign as well. Either way, it’s exciting as hell.
Honestly, this entire leak is exciting. Whereas the common discourse surrounding this game since its gameplay reveal last week has been fairly negative, people on Twitter seem to be buzzing with excitement for the most part. People seem to be excited to play a Halo game again. Something that I feel hasn’t genuinely happened since Halo’s heyday back with Halo 2 and 3.
Of course, this could all end up being for naught if the leak ends up being completely false and every portion of the game needs to be purchased together (or downloaded through Game Pass). I hope that’s not the case because I’m all for Microsoft continuing to break the mold heading into the next generation, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Even if the free-to-play portion falls flat, I could see the 120 FPS portion coming true given how much Microsoft is pushing this console as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Pushing console games into the stratosphere with a massive leap in framerate would perhaps be just as revolutionary at the end of the day.
With only a few months left until the next generation officially kicks off at long last, it won’t be long until all our questions will be answered.