Microsoft quietly cancels Halo Online, the free-to-play Halo multiplayer spinoff in development by Saber Interactive as a region-exclusive Russian game.
With main series entries like Halo 5: Guardians having released just last year and Halo Wars 2 aiming for a 2017 launch, Microsoft is always pushing a new game in the Halo universe. Unfortunately for gamers in Russia, however, the tech giant is pulling the plug on a region-exclusive free-to-play Halo game that had been in development for PC for the past couple of years, Halo Online.
Saber Interactive, the Russian studio handling the development of Halo Online, made the announcement earlier today. Beyond the fact that Microsoft ultimately made the decision to end development on the project, it’s unclear why exactly Halo Online was canned. It was in its beta testing phase in Russia since this past March, but before that, Saber Interactive abruptly ended earlier public testing due to “serious issues” it was having with Halo Online, so perhaps Microsoft wasn’t satisfied with the progress being made on the game.
Regardless of any possible issues with the game’s development, Halo fans seemed enthusiastic about Halo Online. In fact, some modders went through the trouble of making it possible for people living outside of Russia to play it, showing that there was genuine interest in a free-to-play Halo game for PC, so maybe Microsoft will revisit the idea at a later date.
Maybe that’s exactly why Microsoft decided to cancel Halo Online, though. The company has a new focus on PC gaming where it is looking to marry its Xbox and PC gaming business through efforts like the Xbox Play Anywhere program and by bringing its once-Xbox exclusive games to PC. So far, Halo is one of the only big Xbox One exclusive games that has yet to make the jump to PC, but with Microsoft’s renewed interest in PC gaming, that could change.
If Microsoft is indeed planning to bring Halo 5: Guardians or Halo: The Master Chief Collection to PC, then it makes sense that it would cease development on Halo Online. Were Halo Online to be released, it would potentially rob the traditional Halo games of sales on the platform. After all, Halo Online was going to collect fan favorite weapons and maps, and even include some original content as well, making it a tempting alternative over a Halo title one would actually have to buy.
We may never know why Halo Online was cancelled, but if PC ports of Halo 5: Guardians or Halo: The Master Chief Collection are announced within the next year or so, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. In the meantime, there definitely seems to be a market for Halo on PC, and with all the other major Xbox games going to the platform, it seems like Halo making the jump is just a matter of time.
Halo Online was in development for PC, exclusively for Russian gamers.