Halo Infinite developer 343 Industries has moved to explain a recent microtransactions price hike following a community backlash.
Shop prices were raised after 343 added multi-core functionality to customization content. While the multi-core functionality was welcomed by players despite the price hike, 343 also raised the price of older content with the release of last month’s otherwise well received Season 5.
Halo fan XLR8 said: “Halo Infinite’s shop prices for S5 have been very disappointing, and even more so that they went back and increased old bundles. I’ve spent very little this season in comparison to S1-S4. Even as a frequent spender, lots of stuff simply isn’t worth the price.”
Its a really great way to undercut all the goodwill they gained at the launch of s5
— dillard (@dillardslk) October 31, 2023
Addressing the backlash and XLR8 directly, 343 community director Brian “ske7ch” Jarrard moved to explain what had happened by saying the developer is attempting to maintain a level of consistency across items in the store and for those items that will be multi-core enabled in the future. Here’s the statement in full:
“Shop prices on many offers have changed in conjunction with multi-core functionality being added to customization content. With Season 4, we saw new shop offers reflect a new pricing model to account for new coatings being multi-core enabled. With Season 5, many previously released coatings and all helmets in the game were updated to work on all cores, and those shop offers were adjusted to reflect these changes (and to have parity with S4 offers).
“At the same time, the team went ahead and made proactive adjustments to offers that included shoulders since they will be multi-core enabled in a future update. It was a tradeoff to try and front load some of that work now vs. just having a constant churn of shop pricing changes along the way. While many S1-S4 offers have been adjusted, I want to be transparent that as more multi-core coatings come to bear, there are going to be more past offers that weren’t included with the initial S5 adjustments that will see updates in the future.
“As a reminder, everyone who already owns these helmets, coatings, and shoulders will automatically receive multi-core functionality on eligible items as the changes go live in-game.
“In the case where some offers are being displayed as a ‘SALE’ despite being the same price, or even more than before, this is due to the underlying base price of the offer being increased. The current sale price is lower than the new normal price but without that context, we can certainly see how it leads to confusion, perception of it being a bug or error, etc.
“I understand this isn’t necessarily what everyone wants to hear, but I hope this at least helps explain what did change and why.”
It’s fair to say that despite this explanation, some Halo Infinite players are still upset at the price changes. Redditor NapkinLover69 called it “damn inflation hitting my digital items.” “They’re really using cross core to justify increased prices. Incredible,” added MonkeysxMoo35. “343i does realize we’re still buying one version of that item and are simply being allowed (only after we complained about it enough) to use it across eight cores, right? We’re not buying eight unique helmets/coatings/visors/shoulders, we’re buying a single thing that we can then use in eight different places.”
This touches on a long-standing complaint with Halo Infinite that revolves around the shooter’s core cosmetics system, which until recently restricted some items to a single core. Then there’s the complaint that digital items shouldn’t cost more just because they can be used across a larger number of core items.
“I don’t agree with the logic that items being cross-core means they need to be more expensive,” MisterHotrod said. “Sure, I understand that people buying an item that’s cross-core won’t be as incentivized to buy as many items as they would if cross-core wasn’t a thing, but that’s assuming that players would actually spend the money on buying stuff for every core, which seems silly. They’re also assuming that players will use that single item on multiple cores, which isn’t necessarily the case either. And if they do, so what? That’s still basing everything on the logic that more cross-core = fewer sales, which isn’t necessarily true at all. Plus, it feels like they’re punishing the player base for their mistake of not building the game with cross-core in mind. This is just pure greed.”
“Why is 343 like this?” asked dragon-mom. “Can’t they go five seconds without tossing out any good will they’ve built up? I seriously can not fathom writing all this out, reviewing it and not seeing how this will just make your company look like they’re giving the middle finger to the players who went out of their way to return to your failed live service game. I was hoping this wasn’t the same 343 that gave us the coating system but this leaves me wondering how much has actually changed.”
It was a similar sentiment across social media.
343i thinks they can charge more because of their efforts to make cross-core when it’s a feature that should’ve been from the beginning and not as a monetization feature. They are making us pay for their bad decisions about how to make our spartans
— Xavi Strife (@Jav4i) November 3, 2023
343: We can have the players pay to make their Spartans cool
— Jovan Baker (@jovanbakerLIVES) November 3, 2023
While I appreciate communication and transparency from Sketch, the community was clearly not a fan of Halo Infinite’s pricing logic.
The studio and the community are at an impasse, and there has to be a better way forward.
As always, speak your ideas- and vote with your wallet.
— XLR8 (@XLR8_LIVE) November 3, 2023
The issue with store prices comes amid a modest resurgence for Halo Infinite, which has seen interest and sentiment improve this year after player numbers dwindled post-launch. Halo Infinite dropped off hard following launch as disgruntled players ditched the game for its poor progression systems, monetisation, and missing modes. 343 also made a number of controversial decisions, including scrapping split-screen multiplayer. Forge mode itself only arrived a year after launch, alongside online campaign co-op. 343 appears to have left Halo Infinite’s campaign behind, too. In June, 343 announced it had scrapped Halo Infinite’s story-driven seasonal cutscenes, news that came after significant lay-offs at the studio.
“As we’ve refined our top priorities and shifted resources internally this year, we had to make the decision to forego seasonal narrative cutscenes to make room for the team to continue focusing on highly requested features, content, and improvements for Halo Infinite,” 343 said at the time.
The mention of “shifted resources” might have referred to the lay-offs that affected it earlier this year and saw Halo Infinite director Joseph Staten leave the developer. 343 was forced to clarify that “Halo and Master Chief are here to stay” following the lay-offs, saying it “will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more of what makes Halo great”.
The developer is reportedly working on a new Halo project, codenamed Tatanka, built on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine rather than the in-house Slipspace engine.
As the Halo community waits to learn what’s next for the franchise, sentiment on Infinite has slowly turned around, with players saying it’s in a decent place. Fans have reacted positively to Season 5 in particular.
User-generated mode Forge enjoyed a big update as part of the season that adds a new AI toolkit to help players make more content, including PvPvE content. With Forge, players can now spawn specific AI from the campaign to fill out their custom game creation, and the community is already having its fun pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or confidentially at email@example.com.
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Author: Wesley Yin-Poole