There are those who said this day would never come. What are they to say now?
A month ago, I wrote an article in which I stated that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has the best implementation of seasons in any game on the market. I also wrote that I hoped 343 Industries would bring their philosophy over to Halo Infinite. And just like one of the franchise’s overarching themes, that hope paid off.
As such, it felt only right to return with another hot take. Mark my words, Halo Infinite‘s permanent season system will become the new industry standard.
What’s Happening With Halo: MCC And Halo Infinite
First, let’s put things into context. If you’ve been out of the Halo loop, 343 Industries added seasons to The Master Chief Collection in 2019. Their introduction coincided with the addition of Halo: Reach to the anthology. Since then, the studio periodically releases new seasons (we’re now at 7) with a lot of new content. What it does differently is keep every season, and the content within, permanently available to players.
In other words, you could boot up The Master Chief Collection for the first time ever today, hop into multiplayer for a few games, then decide which season you want to put your progression into.
When Halo Infinite launches on Xbox and PC this Holiday, it will do so with free-to-play multiplayer. Naturally, the game will follow in the footsteps of pretty much every other free-to-play (and premium, really) title and feature seasons with purchasable battle passes. But that’s where any resemblance stops, because 343 Industries will break the mold in one very important way.
Like with The Master Chief Collection, seasons will be permanent.
The “Player-First” Mentality
“We want players having fun in Halo, not grind it like it’s a job.”
That’s what lead progression designer Christopher Blohm said in June 24’s Halo Waypoint post.
It’s clear that 343 Industries is going all-in on their player-first mentality. This also extends to the length of each Halo Infinite season. Each one will last roughly three months which, according to live team design director Ryan Paradis, will give “players a good amount of time to experience and explore the seasonal content, without it getting tiresome and without constantly pulling the rug from under players.”
Paradis went a step further, reconfirming the permanent battle passes and the core philosophy behind 343’s decision.
“All Battle Passes will be permanent. This means that the Season 1 Battle Pass will be around forever; you can always go back, select that as your active Battle Pass and continue to earn progress in it. If you decided to take a Season off, or you simply didn’t have time to play, that’s fine. You can always go back and purchase any prior Battle Pass as well.”
We’ve all been there. Who hasn’t purchased a battle pass, enticed by some exotic cosmetic near the end of the reward stream, only to not have the time to play and miss out on rewards? Or worse yet, felt obligated to play a game for hours each day because of the fear of missing out on something?
What 343 is doing with Halo Infinite isn’t just player-first, it’s consumer-friendly. Essentially, they’re breaking the metaphorical chains that bind players to games they don’t necessarily want to pour countless hours into. Sure, you can put days into Infinite‘s multiplayer if you want, but you’ll never have to.
Players won’t have to dedicate their time to grinding out seasons. We won’t even have to feel pressured to buy battle passes, since we can always go back, purchase a previous pass, and put progression into it.
Why Will This Become The New Standard?
The Halo franchise, like any long-running series, had its ups and downs. Yet the fact remains that it’s an absolutely iconic franchise. For more than 20 years, fans have been eagerly awaiting each new instalment. Many of us have fond memories of jumping into multiplayer matches, whether in-person via LAN parties or online with Xbox Live, and feel a personal attachment to the series.
With free-to-play multiplayer on PC and Xbox, Halo Infinite will be in the hands of millions of players around the world. No financial risk to consumers means that anybody with an Xbox or a PC capable of running the game will most likely give it a try. In turn, that translates to an incredible reach (no pun intended) on the web. Expect to see a ton of streamers and YouTubers playing the game.
Not to mention, there is a lot of good things to say about a game that lets you complete its battle passes at your own pace. The hard-earned money that players will spend will never be lost.
I know what you’re thinking. “Battle passes and seasons are meant to drive engagement and increase player retention, how does making them permanent benefit 343 Industries?”
Well, Dear Reader, the answer to that is quite simple. It doesn’t benefit 343 Industries directly, it benefits the players. However, the studio will reap some hefty rewards nonetheless.
For starters, fans and media outlets are already speaking highly of 343 Industries’ battle pass philosophy. It goes without saying that good press and word of mouth are powerful marketing tools. Secondly, the jaded gamer in me can’t help but think that keeping every battle pass for sale will increase revenue. Why offer something for a limited time when it can be purchased throughout the game’s life cycle?
As players discover the game and see the positive impact 343 Industries’ battle pass philosophy has on them, consumer sentiment will inevitably shift toward desiring similar systems in other games.
And lets face it, if a series like Halo can do it, other Triple-A studios will be hard-pressed to explain why they can’t. Or why they won’t.
Halo Infinite: 343 Industries’ Power Play
Most of all, this is a statement by 343 Industries. A statement that players and their enjoyment of the game are the priority. It also tells me that they are confident in the game. That they believe it will be a great experience for players. Simply put, Halo Infinite will keep players engaged and returning because it’s just that fun to play. No need to lock people in with time-limited content.
Just like Halo: Combat Evolved modernized first-person shooters back in 2001, Halo Infinite will revolutionize how studios implement seasons and battle passes in their games.
Halo Infinite will be available for Xbox and PC this Holiday.