Matt Booty didn't shy away from the game's failures to deliver.
Halo Infinite’s first year has been one tainted by persistent development issues, and Matt Bootythe head of Xbox Game Studioswasn’t one to mince words about its current state.
“It was the classic runner mistake of tripping and stumbling as you come across the finish line,” he said in a recent interview with the Friends Per Second podcast. “Weve got to recover there.”
Despite a promising launch last November to positive reviews and “a peak of around 20 million players playing the game” in December, according to Booty, Halo Infinite has failed to deliver consistent content releases since then. The game’s first season lasted six months after a delay was announced to the second, and season three is now slated for March of next year.
A Winter Update releasing tomorrow alongside Forge, Campaign Co-Op, and a small free battle pass will mitigate some of that wait, but player counts continue to dwindle in the midst of the content drought. While popular titles such as Apex Legends and Fortnite offer a consistent release cadence for new stuff to do, Halo Infinite’s offerings only retain monthly peak players on Steam of around 6,000.
“As is apparent, these days, with a game like Halo Infinite, shipping the game is just the beginning,” he said. “Theres got to be a plan for content sustain, theres got to be a plan for continued engagement, and we just fell short on the plan for that.”
Booty still praised the efforts of 343 Industries for successfully shipping the title at all, saying “kudos to the team for building and shipping a game during some pretty challenging times” in reference to the pandemic that plagued much of Infinite’s development time. But he also admitted that the phrase “gone gold” for game launches means little these days, and the lack of a robust pipeline for what came after the launch was where everything fell apart.
Despite the honest assessment of Halo Infinite’s struggles, he didn’t hesitate to still paint a bright picture of the game’s future under the stewardship of a re-energized team.
“Weve really retrenched,” Booty said. “Weve got some changes in how the team is set up, weve got some changes in leadership and weve got to really get re-focused around that sustained content plan and making sure were bringing regular updates to the players.”
Those changes in leadership have been seen throughout the past year, with examples such as the departure of the multiplayer lead in March and Bonnie Ross343’s founder and headexiting the company in September. It isn’t the first project from the developer to struggle in this way, with the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection being notoriously broken and going on an arduous road to recovery. But it’s clear that Xbox hopes the sweeping changes to how it operates will create a better future for its flagship franchise.
“That is our focus right now: quality of life for the game and getting on a regular cadence of content,” Booty said. “Thank you to the players for sticking with us through this. We know theres way more demand and so much more we could be delivering.”