Out of nowhere, Microsoft dropped two massive new bombshells. First, that the Xbox Series X will be releasing in November of this year. Conventional wisdom suggested that this would be the case, but it wasn’t confirmed until today. However, its biggest launch title, Halo Infinite, isn’t going to join the Series X in releasing this November.
It was also announced today that Halo Infinite would be delayed into 2021 citing development challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19. Adding: “it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.”
Delays, even before COVID, have generally been more warmly accepted over the years. Lots of gamers just want a complete and fun-to-play game at launch and are willing to accept getting the game a little bit later if that means the final product will be what they expect and hope for.
Add COVID into the mix, which has impacted just about every game development studio’s productivity in some way, and it’s not entirely surprising that Halo Infinite got delayed nor is it something you can reasonably fault 343 Industries for.
That said, I have wondered out loud how much the Brute memes that followed the recent Xbox Games Showcase factored into the decision… but I digress.
That said, even if it’s reasonable, acceptable, and understandable for 343 to delay Halo Infinite into 2021, it doesn’t make it any less crappy of a situation for Microsoft and the launch of the Xbox Series X later this fall.
Even before Halo Infinite’s delay, most of the big games shown at the Xbox Games Showcase was slated to come out in 2021 or possibly even later.
Halo Infinite was meant to be what anchored the launch of the Xbox Series X and bridged the gap to some of the other stuff that was going to come later in the year.
This is what Microsoft is now promoting for the launch of the Xbox Series X via Xbox:
- More than 50 new games planned for this year across generations and optimized for Xbox Series X, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Dirt 5, Gears Tactics, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Watch Dogs: Legion. With Smart Delivery you only have to buy these games once to play the best versions for your console, across generations.
- New games developed for Xbox Series X and launching with Xbox Game Pass,including exclusives like The Medium, Scorn, Tetris Effect: Connected, and more.
- More than 40 popular games newly optimized to take full advantage of Xbox Series X such as Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Madden NFL 21, and more.
I can only speak for myself, but nothing here is motivating me to want to buy an Xbox Series X right away, especially when you consider that the biggest games on this list will also release on the Xbox One.
I’m one of the most prominent Xbox apologists here on the Twinfinite. I love the user interface, I have generally enjoyed the console’s exclusives this generation, and I’m obsessed with the value of Xbox Game Pass.
My main argument, though, for buying the Xbox Series X early in spite of kind of a slim first-party launch lineup was the experience and thrill of playing a new Halo game on day one of the Xbox Series X launch, leveraging the power of the next-gen specs to hit 4K and 60FPS.
It was an “event” that I was looking forward to and I imagine many other Xbox fans as well wanted to spend their holiday playing Halo Infinite.
Now that’s out the window, I personally don’t see any reason for the average consumer to rush to buy an Xbox Series X anymore. There’s not another event-like experience to be had at launch, at least as of what we know today.
The lineup is fine, probably average by launch lineup standards but hardly something that I think will kick the launch of the Series X off with a big bang.
Considering how comparatively underwhelming the Xbox One has been, at least in terms of exclusive experiences to its competitors, I have to imagine Microsoft really wanted to nail the launch of the Xbox Series X to give them the best chance of avoiding history repeating itself.
Even console generations are a long-game play; Microsoft obviously wants the Series X to be a hit at its launch right before the holidays when many home consoles are gifted.
Halo Infinite was the glue that held the launch together and with it gone, it’s fair to reevaluate whether or not the Xbox Series X is looking strong heading into November.
It’s too early to call the launch lineup “weak” without knowing with certainty what games are and aren’t going to make it before 2020 ends, but it’s obvious that Halo Infinite’s delay is a big blow to Microsoft’s plans this fall.
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