Halo Subreddit Locked Down Due To Spiraling Toxicity As 343 Talks Progression, Playlists, Microtransactions, And More
343's Brian Jarrard speaks at length about the state of Halo Infinite.
The Halo subreddit has been temporarily locked down due to toxicity on the forum that has "spiraled out of control," according to the mods. This happened after 343 community director Brian Jarrard wrote an impassioned post about the state of Halo Infinite and calling for civil discourse around the game.
"The amount of toxicity on the sub from both sides has made it impossible for people to have civil discussions, which is what the mod team strives for regardless of opinion," the mods said. "Some users on the sub have even been responsible for doxxing and death threats. We're temporarily putting the sub on lockdown so people can hopefully settle down a bit and we can hit the reset button before launch. At the end of the day this is a video game and this level of vitriol is unwarranted. Take the weekend off, we're reopening on Monday."
Jarrard said in a lengthy post on Reddit in which he said he understands and generally agrees with some of the frustrations that Halo Infinite fans have with the game. He doesn't, however, agree with the manner in which some fans are expressing their opinions. "Call me a shill, a liar, corp speak, etc. as you want, but I've never lied to this community and never will," Jarrard said. "And I'm not saying myself are 343 are a 'victim' in any way - that's yet another narrative some folks here have chosen to apply. It's my job to come in here, listen, franky take it on the chin, and despite personally being very put off by the way in which many are expressing themselves, still ensure that we are advocating for players internally. We do that regardless of it being positive or negative and always will."
Jarrard's statement comes after 343 announced plans to add more playlists to Halo Infinite. Players had been wanting to see a Team Slayer playlist, and while it might be added eventually, it's not coming right away. Jarrard said of this, "We're still having discussions around feasibility. Yes this is absolutely a hot topic and something the team is aware of. We would love to have modes and experiences that meet player expectations vs. the backlash situation we're in today. I don't believe anyone at 343 thought not having Slayer was a 'good idea.'"
Jarrard added: "We have had people working their asses off for years to try and deliver the best Halo game they can amidst very challenging circumstances. But, I will try to at least provide some context for those who are interested."
Jarrard explained that the playlists in Halo Infinite at launch were always meant to represent a "measured approach."
"We have UI limitations with the game right now in the way and number of playlists that are exposed. We have complex and not-ideal progression and challenge systems intertwined in playlists and modes that are not necessarily trivial to de-couple and change. (yes the entire challenge/progression system needs a lot of work - something the team is acutely aware of and prioritizing)," Jarrard said.
"The team's plans for a Slayer playlist, I think, are more robust than what might 'suffice' for an interim solution. I love the ideas and some of the variants they're working on - those all require tuning and most importantly - testing. QA is a huge dependency and it's a critical part of the development pipeline that has been running nonstop for months to launch this game," he added.
The developer went on to say that 343 is now thinking about if it would be possible to add a "vanilla Slayer" playlist and launch it sooner than the full thing, which would be more robust. However, this might not be possible due to a variety of reasons.
"I think the main hurdle that needs to be addressed and may require more time than is feasible before the holiday break is the knock on effect to challenges and needing to also re-assess 'quick play' and what that becomes," Jarrard said. "Historically, a Slayer only playlist and an Objective only playlist has always resulted in the Obj playlist quickly becoming unhealthy - but maybe we inevitably have no choice but to go down that route until more robust systems are available (note I am not a MP or systems designer)."
Jarrard went on to say that it's simply not true that developers can "push a button" and add new features to Halo Infinite. "And at the scale and complexity of this game - any and every change could have monumental impact in a negative way without extensive testing," he said. "Triaging these feedback issues and finding 'what CAN we do now' is what the team is already doing and will continue doing. Everything has to be tested. Everything has downstream dependencies and knock on effects. And, we're 4 days from a global launch with holidays right after."
Jarrard also addressed the speculation that 343 purposefully designed Halo Infinite to put an emphasis on Challenge Swaps (and by extension, microtransactions).
"It just isn't. I don't expect everyone to believe that, but while we may not agree with the playlist selections and approach, I'm just going to say again 'making players have no control and have to use swaps' has never once been a thing I've heard," Jarrard said. "Ever. And again, we know this entire challenge system is not ideal and while I'm glad they've been able to make some interim tweaks to progression pace and remove some of the more frustrating RNG challenges, there is absolutely more work to be done and this is not the ideal vision the Live team has in mind. (though, more challenge tweaks are coming with the playlist update, details to come soon) I did not really enjoy having to grind through 20+ games of Quick Play to hopefully get Oddball so I could hopefully win 3 times to complete a challenge. Or, <shudder>, having to get 10 Ravager kills. Is this week's Ultimate Reward of just an emblem really worth the grind? There's a lot of work to do - we are all in agreement there. A few more changes are coming this month and I hope we can start to lay out more robust plans after the break."
Also in the post, Jarrard said he hears the concerns of some fans have about Halo Infinite multiplayer adopting a free-to-play business model that focuses on microtransactions. "I understand where you're coming from, especially with a 20 year established franchise with a longstanding legacy. F2P has been a huge boost to growing the player base and we've seen a huge amount of new players entering the franchise for the first time ever. But this is a business - the servers you play on cost money to operate," he said. "The studio that develops and maintains the game costs money. Battlepass and premium customization is the model for this game today. Is there room to continue assessing the overall economy and value for players? Absolutely and that's also an area the team is constantly monitoring and learning. The creation of cosmetics and the battlepass have absolutely nothing to do with something like a playlist. That content was created ages ago, is static, and wasn't done 'instead of playlists.' Was it a priority to make sure that this game could in fact generate revenue? Of course."
In summation, Jarrard said players should know that 343 is going to do its best to improve Halo Infinite as much as it can as fast as it can. "If things today do not meet your expectations then I'm sorry you've been disappointed. I'm confident this game will continue to get better and better and all of these issues are fixable," he said. "I also realize that some players are just going to not play anymore - maybe they come back, maybe they don't. I also know - and want to be very up front and honest - that the pace at which bigger changes are brought to bear will absolutely not be as fast as many want. We have some problems, for sure, but I'm really proud of the foundation the team was able to deliver."
Finally, Jarrard called on fans to engage with the Halo Infinite discourse in a civil manner.
"Everyone's entitled to their opinion. It's your prerogative to play or not play. I'd rather have people who are so passionate they're yelling at us than nobody caring at all," he said. "But I just ask that people please take a breath here, understand there are human beings behind this who put years of their lives into just trying to make the best experiences they can, and do not rush to judge or assume you've got it all figured out."
Halo Infinite's campaign mode launches on December 8. Keep checking back with GameSpot for lots more on Halo Infinite in the days ahead.
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