Xbox Boss Explains Why Halo 5 Has No Split-Screen

Times have changed.


Microsoft's upcoming Halo 5: Guardians breaks from series tradition in a major way due to the fact that the shooter will not support split-screen. Now, Microsoft's top gaming boss, Phil Spencer, has shed some more light on that controversial decision. He tells GameSpot in a new interview that the "vast majority" of people, at least those whose consoles are connected to Xbox Live, are playing co-op across Xbox Live, not locally.

"In the end, the teams make decisions based on the bar that they want to hit for complexity of what they're going to run on a single box," he said. "We see the robustness of what Xbox Live is today and where people are playing across Xbox Live--you at your house, me at our house. We know that's the vast majority of the co-op play. With Halo 5, the team really wanted to focus on making that experience great, both visually on the screen that you're looking at, and all the systems in place."

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Spencer went to say he he "loved" split-screen in previous Halo games and acknowledged that "it was kind of how multiplayer in Halo was born." But times have changed.

"I think the team made a trade-off based on what they see happening in the market today and what they wanted to do with their game," Spencer explained. "I love the nostalgia of the couch co-op of what Halo did in the past, but I also know in the realities of the day with people's busy lives, it's not as easy to get everybody in the same physical place. It's one of the advantages that Xbox Live obviously offers."

Previously, Halo 5 executive producer Josh Holmes said the decision to remove split-screen from Halo 5 was "one of the most difficult ones we've ever had to make as a studio." He added that Halo 5's new "massive-scale environments," better visuals,and improved AI might have been "compromised" if split-screen was in the mix.

Also in our interview, Spencer talked about how he's "confident" Halo 5's multiplayer will have a smooth launch. He also said he expects Halo will still be around in 2035, enjoying a long lifespan not unlike Star Wars and Spider-Man. Read the entire interview here.

The Halo 5 release date is set for October 27 exclusively for Xbox One. GameSpot recently played a portion of Halo 5's campaign. Watch some videos and get our thoughts here.

What do you make of Halo 5 dropping split-screen?

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Avatar image for CagedOkami

still wishing it did. but hey i got 60 frames now, thats totally worth not playing with my friends.

Avatar image for comanderkhalid2

that is why they should add split screen, then this game could be better than bo3!

Who needs running on walls when you have boosts, slides, assassinations and warzone!

Avatar image for monleon

"the "vast majority" of people, at least those whose consoles are connected to Xbox Live, are playing co-op across Xbox Live, not locally."

It sounds to me that they did a really dumb interpretation of the data. I can't imagine that the "majority" of halo players never played split-screen, not even once?

Of course you're going to see more solo online players. Whenever I had the chance to play Halo, the majority of the time was on my own. So what if I only occasionally played Halo with friends through split-screen, to me that was the core value of the game. Halo wouldn't have become so popular if it weren't for that. Now there's no incentive for me to buy halo 5, because that means $900+ to play with just ONE other friend.

Also, it's not as easy as it used to be to get together to play... What? Are highschool kids more busy than 10 years ago?

Avatar image for ThaddeusK

I didn't know the game didn't support splitscreen until now. I assumed it would, since all of the previous games did. I bought this game exclusively for playing local co-op, so it is now a paperweight. Good thing I only paid half price for it, I guess.

Avatar image for littlec18

@ThaddeusK: I'm totally and completely pissed because me and a friend we started playin Xbox because of halo, since the first Xbox came out. With time the only reason we bought halo games was out of the tradition to play split screen coop. They may give many excuses like screen resolution, image quality but it's all for the money to force ppl to spend more money on buying games and consoles. To me and my friends the halo series is Dead. It feels like betrayal. I'm well aware companies need to sell but I hate the fact that ithe reunions made to play are forced now to be separate. Will not buy more halo games anymore.

Avatar image for Newrange

If Mr. Spencer wants to make excuses, he should at least put some effort into making them seem plausible. It's obvious that the deliberate exclusion of split-screen is just a ploy to sell Xbox Ones and Xbox Live subscriptions. If Microsoft hadn't bought the Halo franchise from Bungie, they would have been contacting Bungie during Halo 5's development anyway BEGGING (or intimidating) them to exclude split-screen.

Obvious Solution:

Include high-quality and low-quality versions of all multiplayer-mode assets.

When one person is playing locally, stream the high-quality assets at 1080p/60fps.

When two or more people are playing locally, stream the low-quality assets at lower resolutions and/or frame-rates.

This method could easily be implemented to tweak the game's output so that the hardware CAN handle split-screen. Most players who are willing to give up 1/2 or 3/4 of their screen space for split-screen couldn't care less about having to settle for a lower resolution or a lower frame-rate.

This is just like when it was announced that the Xbox One would require an Internet connection for gameplay and when it was announced that Xbox One games would not be resalable. If people complain enough and don't give in to Microsoft's unspoken demands, I'm certain that split-screen will eventually be patched in. Here's to hoping that long-time fans of the series don't give in to the shameless corporate manipulation that is attempting to force their hands.

Avatar image for rapitrone

I have played basically every previous Halo release in split screen co-op with my daughter. The only real reason I bought or played any of the previous Halo games was because I could play split screen co-op with my daughter. Dropping it cost them my business.

Avatar image for ROLLER_CHK

## he can say what he wants or what its more convinient for the company at the end of the only ones screwed up with that stupid descition is us, and acctially its our fault cause nobody here is saying i wont buy the game cause i cant play with my roomie or something else u and all the people arround the world just keep buying bad games or uncompleted games or section of games so what more can i say keep buying, keep doing as they say and at the end ull be playing whatever they want but i think now is to late for a lot of people and thats sad cause theres more people who dnt give a S!"$ spend some money and play something that barely understand tan a few who buy Quality products.

Avatar image for smitty78749

This is greed pure and simple, its their game they can do what they want with it. But, this lying has to stop, They need to come out and say it's because we want more money!(it's not surprising they are a soulless corporation)

Avatar image for AwesomePossum50

Greedy bastards... The only reason the "majority of people" are playing online coop or whatever is because the majority of the new games have been screwing couch coop gamers over...

Another game crossed off my list, though... Just when I was starting to look forward to it, too. Seriously, they're not fooling anyone with their BS about why they're doing it, we all know they just want to squeeze as much money as they can out of people. Screw them.

Avatar image for medafaded

WOW! Whats this guys email, or how do I send him hate mail! I hope some one kicks you square in the nuts. Watch it be back in Halo 6, and you'll be fired!

Avatar image for Dopeyman

" it's not as easy to get everybody in the same physical place. It's one of the advantages that Xbox Live obviously offers."

Someone is out of touch with fans. The scenario is and has been: you're whooping some Spartan butt and some buds come over. They can join. Further, my wife is the bigger Halo fan and it was getting very tiresome trading the controller every round in the 5 beta, especially because matchmaking took literally 15-40 minutes (I timed it, not making that up). The beta was extremely fun and addictive but the lack of SS is pretty serious. Whatever happened to "player 2 press start?"

Avatar image for ArchoNils2

no split screen = I won't buy it. I remember Halo as a series I played with friends in my home. I have no interest in Halo 5 at all, but I do play the collection where there actually is split-screen. Sad, because Halo5 is one of the few reasons I actually got an x1...

Avatar image for sadhalofan

Yeah, no split-screen was a deal breaker for me... I bought the Halo 4 Xbox 360 and have played every Halo game since Halo 1: CE (Even Halo wars) and I was planning on getting the Halo 5 Xbox one as my introduction into the new generation of consoles, unfortunately not ever being able to play with my friends through local split-screen co-op is just unacceptable, believe it or not people still like to socially interact with their friends in person. I am not speaking for everyone here, but my experience in trying to organize lets just say 3 friends to play and coordinate and come online at the same time to play a game is usually more difficult than in person once everyone is with each other. Oh well, maybe Halo 6 will bring back split-screen and ill considering buying an Xbox one then, at least the price will drop I hope. On the other hand, if I really wanted the online only co-op first person experience on consoles, I can just buy a PS4 and play destiny, it's also good timing since there are rumors the PS4 is dropping to $350

Avatar image for Drkoolbeanz

So xbox1 could pull off multiplayer, and the 360 could as well.... However now all of a sudden Xbox One simply cannot pull it off? Sounds like a money grab for Live memberships to me. IF they are telling the truth though, and they simply have no ability to pull off multiplayer split screen like Killzone (a launch title for the ps4 for example) did, then this is really an indication about how the argument over PS4 1080p vs Xbox One 900p is as very very important argument to be having and one that we SHOULD be having in the future from now on.

Avatar image for misterknight

I have a 3,000 dollar gaming PC, with SLI Titan Xs and a 4k monitor. But I still like consoles and recently bought a PS4 the white and gold Destiny edition. It is nice to play console only games like Madden, Destiny, Bloodborne, and Uncharted. I consider myself a gamer and think people who defend brands and pit them against each other are ignorant at best.

I turned my eyes to the Halo Guardians X-box One console. Not only did it look amazing but the reality is I thought it would be worth a decent amount if I ever got bored with X-box one and decided to sell it. But lack of split screen almost ruins the game for me. All my best memories of Halo come from playing with other people in the same room.

Yes Halo one had a great story, two was a let down ending wise (liked the game), three was good. I played reach which I liked (skipped 4). But again split screen is just as important. Then sold my 360. Being an MMO gear grind it makes sense why Destiny had no co op. I don't think they ever would have made this choice for a small multiplayer game with a single player mode.

I have the Guardians edition console paid off. Now I wish I never did. Like ME3 and the ending that ruined the series for me, my Mass Effect 3 themed keyboard was also ruined. This could be too. It comes down to the game being as good as Halo 3 writing wise for me to want to look at the console moving forward. I will just hold on to the console and sell at Christmas time unopened I guess. Get something for my disappointment. Not sure I will buy a X-box One at any point in the future now. This seems to be the direction they want to take their exclusives.

Keep squeezing out that extra money Phil. Whatever people will pay more to do. Your politically written speeches and rehearsed damage control dialog make me sick. If I wanted this kind of thing I would care about politics.

Avatar image for GregoryBastards

You know the problem with Phil is he talks too much....he could have said that they didnt want to compromise the game's quality and this woulda been a non issue.....

Obviously the entire point of consoles for me at least was couch co op....i share a apartment with 5 other people and this is the reason we mostly play last gen machines....the only game we can play co op on current gen is Diablo 3.

Halo 3 had couch co op and multiplayer for christ hard could it be now to implement it.

These consoles were said to be the most social consoles but theyr kind of anti social actually....makes me wonder about VR....

Avatar image for death4us2

How does Xbox Live help when a family isn't at the same physical location? Basically that means only one person is playing Xbox and so multiplayer and Xbox Live are basically worthless just as split screen is. Also before someone says they can play against other people online ask yourself how does having split screen prevent that.

Avatar image for Kusann

Another damage preventing speech, typical in this kind of company.

The evident truth is: they want people to buy 4 copies of Halo 5 and 4 subs to Xbox Live so people can play together, instead of just buying 1 copy of the game and paying for 1 subscription. Profit.

Avatar image for SEADRIVE

@KusannYou are perfectly right...if you want to game with your buddies at your buddies, you have to all bring your own consoles and copies of the game...quite a bit more inconvenient than the four controller ports and ability to play on the original xbox. So, what is the difference between this gen consoles and pc's? Not much really, except I can load a pc to the spec's I want instead of coping with the limits of a console.

Very weak,


Avatar image for DJ-Wolfman09

I'm seriously not liking this trend with shooters nowadays, they should at least recognize that there are some instances where couch co-op is optimal (many a gaming session was dampened by the fact a particular game lacked what one could consider a homestead feature). Now Halo, the shooter famous for local co-op is cutting it out; seriously 343 (and devs in general) this is practically a staple of gaming that your cutting out, not just shooters but gaming as a whole. It isn't rocket science to have this feature, yes it's not used very often nowadays, but that doesn't mean there's no one who would use it...

Avatar image for charliebrownnz

Here is a quote from Phil Spencer about VR gaming:

“It doesn’t mean I don’t think VR has great experiences to offer. I think it does, and we’ll find those, and people will love playing those. I love playing games in my family room with my kids. I love people coming together and watching what’s happening on screen and laughing, and the kind of fun of what video games were always about. That doesn’t mean that can’t happen in a kind of socially connected VR environment, but to me it would be too bad if all gaming became people with head mounted displays on, headphones on, kind of blocked out from everything that happens. I do think there’ll be great experiences there, but just kind of for the sake of what gaming is, I don’t think that should be the only way people play.”

Hypocrisy or what?

Avatar image for choppergreg

Just another weak excuse.

There is no way 343 could come up with that sort of statistics, simply because people who play local / LAN / couch coop are by definition not on line to be counted.

Avatar image for SEADRIVE

I would like to agree that it blows that splitscreen is not provided in Halo 5...but keep in mind that this change is both among Xbox One and the PS4. The big grab for 1080p does not matter to me, but the reason why I play(ed) games on a console vs a computer was exclusively about splitscreen. Perhaps the hardcore gamer likes all his visual available only to him, butthere are more still more recreational gamers, like myself, who have been gaming for several decades. We have all the consoles and spend money regularly on them. We don't play much online multiplayer, but instead like either local ethernet enabled multiplayer with a switch or splitscreen play of the actual campaign. I have gold, but like many, don't play much online games, for I am a recreational gamer and not trying to compete for a title of best gamer. Sure, I understand that more detail(s) and resolution can be obtained from fullscreen play, but historically dual or quad screen games were always available for consoles...even the original Atari 8 bit computer had ports for 4 controllers and it was fun getting together. Even the original battlefronts on the original Xbox allowed up to 4 to connect on one screen and people did not care if the resolution and detail were reduced lowered compared to single play, it was about fun with your external server were needed and AI enemies were available locally from that console or heck, you could link consoles locally for multiplayer...just like you can do with even Halo 4 on the 360! I think Titanfall, being one of the first exclusive big games on Xbox One was a major's a cool designed game and could have been amazing game, but it's play value and ways of playing are very linear and limited and it's already almost dead as a game to play...a few years from now when the server plug is pulled means you have a game box that is worth absolutely nothing ...there will be no nostalgie for a game that is non-playable...on the other hand, 4 original xbox's and 4 copies of halo 1 are still locally linkable and 16 people can play them together...having fun. However, game companies have lost this focus and grasp on what a console really campaign, no splitscreen and no local multiplayer play are not what consoles are about...but I suppose nostalgically enjoying a 15 year old title on 15 year old hardware doesn't refill Microsoft's or Sony's pockets let's make games that will be dead as soon as I turn of their server...and you will require playstation plus or gold if you want to play with a friend. EA was one of the first companies to create multiplayer gaming with Mule in the early 80s... 4 people could locally play on one screen on a 1.79mhz Atari computer with 32kb of was amazing! 20 years later, consoles such as the xbox 360 further enhance this gaming experience by adding several choices in how you wanted to play...splitscreen campaign mode with up to 4 playing online, splitscreen multiplayer in 2 or 4 were available, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer with up to 16...amazing! 1080p resolution was not the main design, and different ways to play was...the next generation console...the Xbox One , I thought, was supposed to further enhance this with its even newer hardware capabilities, yet so far both the xbox one and ps4 have reverted to mostly linear gaming experiences with little to no choices. Consoles were never supposed to be PCs, but affordable, convenient social devices that could offer multiple ways to play for everyone...I want this back please!

They stated in the interview that Halo 5 will be around in 2035? We may not be able to play Titanfall after 2017 if they shutdown the server!!



Avatar image for hunterw415

@SEADRIVE: He expects the franchise to be around by 2035, not Halo 5 the game itself

Avatar image for kasp3r

Whoa, guys this is one game you can play other games with your friends like I'm positive a new rock band is coming and if its a shooter you want there's gears of chill, it sucks they did this but seriously, chill...its just halo

Avatar image for chillarius

@kasp3r: I can't believe that you said "its just halo".

It is so much more than a game to a lot of people. I grew up with halo. The Master Chief was my childhood hero. I played each Halo title endlessly because the co-op fun was limitless on a single console. The fact that split screen is being dropped is a huge loss. I am pretty sure that bungie would not have made that call.

Avatar image for SEADRIVE

@chillarius...sorry to say this, but Bungie did make the same crappy's the reason why I purchased the Masterchief collection instead of Destiny...which really is a Halo....

I would have purchased Destiny, but when I found out that is does not support Splitscreen I decided not to purchase it.

Avatar image for misterknight

@SEADRIVE: The difference is Halo is not a gear grind MMO with raiding. It's not even close to the same thing to compare Destiny to Halo in that way. It would be like someone saying World of Warcraft is ruined because they have to be online and there isn't a single player option offline like Skyrim. So it sucks.

No it doesn't suck it just isn't what you thought it was and it doesn't fit your tastes.

I think you went into Destiny thinking it is something it never was and were disappointed. I will say Bungie did a piss poor job advertising that the game was a grinding MMO that takes a lot of dedication. They made It seem like it was a borderlands co op game. As a PC gamer that is how is came off to me at least. If they would have used the term MMO I would have bought a ps4 at launch instead of when Taken King came out.

No reason to defend 343 for "doing the same thing" by not providing CO OP. Again it is not the same, Halo is a single player game with pvp. There is no excuse to leave it out this is all a big play to sell more consoles and xbox live memberships. I don't believe the tech excuse shit for a minute.

Avatar image for charliebrownnz

Thanks MS for confirming to me that the xbox one is a giant spud. The removal of splitscreen was enough to make me sell my xbox one, and this statement confirms that MS's new vision for the xbox is totally garbage and something i want nothing off. Why on earth would i buy a substandard piece of hardware to play a single player game in the livingroom on my HD tv when the giant spud they are selling can't even hit 1080p.

I was always ok that consoles were weaker because they used to provide more social gaming experiences as you would expect something in the living room to provide. Halo is now only the home of peasants. After 14 years and about 70 games I am parting ways with the entire xbox brand, PC's offer a far better experience.

Avatar image for chris-joiner

I hope they add this in through a later update. I only really play Halo if someone is playing with me, and half the time they are in the same room as me.

Avatar image for natedog30

I agree with most of the comments. I am very dissapointed about them taking out split screen. I hope they are reading these comments and realize they made a mistake.

Avatar image for kazrium

It's kind of funny that he has this take on Halo 5, yet it totally contradicts what he said about VR. He hopes that VR is not the true future for video games, because he likes the feeling of being together in the living room experiencing games with others, and not having everyone in their own world with headsets on. Yet he is all for throwing out split screen coop, the one true thing that gets people together in the living room experiencing a game, for one where everyone has their own separate xbox one consoles, in separate locations.

Avatar image for TacticaI

@kazrium: I think you're taking his words out of context. He only acknowledges that the majority of people play across LIVE (could that be because the majority of games don't support split screen?) in order to say not as many people are going to miss out, though many people would love to have the option, not to suggest he's against people playing together in a living room.

Avatar image for kazrium

@TacticaI: I don't think he personally wants split screen out, but I think Microsoft as a company is having him run some damage control by putting a spin on more people play on Xbox live than Split screen local coop. I just think it's funny that the damage control directly contradicts his own statements on VR. I think it is all about fps and resolution on Halo 5, the hot button topics with the PS4 vs. XBOX ONE debate, split screen got left out in the cold. And it's unfortunate, since Local spilt screen coop on Halo was great, and I think one of the major reasons for its success. There is a reason why it has been in every other halo game before this.

Avatar image for TacticaI

@kazrium: Right, it couldn't have been a move made in our best interest as customers. The goal this holiday seems for MS to sell as many Ones by any means necessary and get some the momentum shifting back in their direction.

Avatar image for kazrium

I wish I would have known this before my pre-order, they would not have gotten my money. How do you do this to a big portion of the fan base that has always known Halo to have Spit screen support, just drop it? Split screen is for people who have family or friends at the same location. It is not solved by saying most people play through Xbox live. This should not have been an option for 343 imo. My two cents, they dropped it to get the best looking game they could get, nothing more. With all the drama with fps and resolution from it's competition with Sony, Microsoft didn't want anything that could dip into those numbers. I read into this that the Xbox One's hardware, or 343's software development team, is not capable to getting those current numbers and supporting split screen. I am sad.

Avatar image for beegjeemy

I had forgotten about this and started to get excited about the game again. Now, **** that. To have to buy a second XBone to play with my wife. **** that. It's fuckin Halo, it's only redeeming quality was split screen coop. Now its just another shitty fps. Moar CS:GO plz.

Avatar image for coolmastaj

I agree what mostly everyone else is saying, "the reason why you see more online play is because splitscreen is nonexistent", which is BS. Also now my friends and I cant do our annual LAN party with HALO 5 at least like wtf??. also to not even have local campaign splitscreen is just blasphemy for halo. I cant guarantee me or my friends will buy this game. A big hit for for me, 343i already had some changes from halo 4 i didnt like, like no beta, short campaign weird armor abilities and just changing in a bad direction for halo. which sucks cuz halo 5 seems like they fixed all of it and went back to the roots of halo but left out a key component splitscreen, so way to go 343i in still dropping ball with halo.

Avatar image for homestar99

People play online more than split screen because no big games have split screen anymore, Phil!

Avatar image for steeltempo3662

At least the Wii U widely supports split screen.

Avatar image for pistonsfan2004

Well I'm not going to buy it. That's what I make of it.

Avatar image for Smaug317

I want a smoothe halo experience as much as the next person... But why were all previous halos able to deliver a smooth split screen experience, but the new one can't? This game better be so amazing and so massive that it makes up for this huge let down.

I'd get if they didn't allow split screen with online play, but at least let us play campaign together!

Avatar image for theshorterbus

"Xbox Live- We know that's the vast majority of the co-op play" Well duh, because the majority of games don't have split screen. The one game most people counted on for having split screen was Halo. I actually think it was a dumb decision. Myself and a bunch of friends were going to buy the Xbox one just to have LAN parties. Now it looks like we will not only have to have a bunch of xbones, but a tv for each one. F that noise. Halo was going to be my reason for owning both consoles, and while I'm not saying Xbox doesn't have other good exclusives, for many who own a PS4 already and looking to buy a halo box, this just delayed or removed our intent from buying the xbox one.

Avatar image for jpricewood

@theshorterbus: completely agree

Avatar image for jpricewood

I play a lot of Halo with my son. Actually, as I get older, the only time I game is when I'm playing with my son. He has been wanting to buy Halo 5 for my birthday ever since we finished 4. So, I bought him an Xbox 1 primarily with the intention of being able to play future Halo games. This will devastate him as he has been saving his money for the October release. This move in addition to Xbox 1 having no MLB games makes me really regret my decision to purchase an Xbox over a PS4 for him. This just ruins the Halo experience, and I see no point in purchasing Halo 5. I never cared about the graphics of Halo and neither do kids. It was always just a fun way to pass the time with friends throughout high school and college.

Avatar image for rikku45

I only played halo in the first place because of the split screen, I don't give a shit about the story, I just like playing games with my friend on split screen.