The good news just keep on coming for Microsoft's little-console-RTS-that-could Halo Wars. In a recent post on the community forums over at HaloWars.com, a moderator broke the news to the game's fans that only two years after the game was released, the community will have to make the shift over to Halo Waypoint's message boards, meaning all community content and records will be tossed.
While Halo Wars may not be anywhere near as successful or played as other Halo titles, the accomplishments of Ensemble Studios' RTS can't be forgotten. Whether fueled by the Halo name or not, Wars did manage to sell more than a million copies, making it the most successful RTS ever sold on consoles. This may have been seen as the first step in giving the genre a real shot on home systems, but this latest move may just kill any chance it had.
The post on the forums began straightforward enough, with a moderator informing the game's community that the forums would soon be moving over towards the online social hub for Halo content, Halo Waypoint:
"While I know some of you will see this as bad news, it really isn't: Halo Waypoint, unlike HaloWars.com, is updated daily by bs angel and the rest of the community team. We have very big plans for Halo Waypoint, and if you've seen the mobile app that we just announced, then you'll have an idea of where we're headed with it. Additionally, its forums are fully moderated, so it will be a lot less chaotic than this place tends to be on occasion."
The real news came in regards to the upcoming Title Update for Halo Wars, which will include some corrections for errors found in the game's Theater mode, but would not include some additional features that had been planned. The reason for their absence was due to the amount of work that had to go into keeping online multiplayer working without any connections to HaloWars.com because... it won't exist anymore.
"What this second point means is that when we transition the forums to Halo Waypoint, we're also going to be taking HaloWars.com completely offline. So the forums will disappear and so will online stat-tracking. I know this will be rough on a lot of you, and I can promise that it wasn't a decision made lightly...
"Enjoy the time you have here on HaloWars.com and print-screen or copy-paste any of your favorite old posts and/or game history data, since that will all be taken offline on December 15th. We won't be carrying over accounts, posts, or anything else between the two forums."
Cue the ominous music, because the odds of Halo Wars continuing with its community support just got a lot worse. Not to suggest that fans of a game are likely to drop any interest simply because their forum posts, comments, and accumulated stats are going to be erased forever, but it certainly does remove a good amount of incentive. After all, experience and stats may just be numbers, but people will still spend a lot of time getting them.
Halo Wars may not have enjoyed the monumental sales as other titles in the series, but the idea of completely lifting the look and feel of a FPS into a capable RTS was a bold one. This move certainly adds to the uncertainty surrounding the Halo name, and the future of the series as a whole. With smaller audience comes even fiercer dedication, so the people affected by this latest news are serious gamers, make no mistake about that.
It's a shame that Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on the game's official site, and have delivered the news so bluntly. For all we know, the moderators of the site may have put off the inevitable for as long as they could for the sake of the fans, but that won't soften the blow. In the bright side, jilted fans of the game will be entitled to an exclusive avator to use on Waypoint's message boards, and we all know how much people love anything to do with Halo avatars.
The next few months will be interesting, finding out just how much career stats and leaderboards kept players from migrating to that other science-fiction RTS, Starcraft II.
You can get your chance to say your goodbyes, or see for yourself if Halo Wars deserved its fate by trying it out now exclusively on the Xbox 360. We would recommend playing it sooner rather than later.