“Halo Infinite is the start of our platform for the future. We want Infinite to grow over time, versus going to those numbered titles and having all that segmentation that we had before. It’s really about creating Halo Infinite as the start of the next ten years for Halo and then building that as we go with our fans and community.”
-Chris Lee, 343 Industries' Halo Infinite Studio Head.
This was a quote from an IGN interview. Basically, he's saying that Halo Infinite will be the only Halo game for the next ten years, maybe longer. Halo Infinite could very well be the last Halo game ever, continually updated and upgraded over time.
This is the latest in a trend I have noticed has started to happen. As many games shift from standalone products into "live services," this has clashed with gaming's traditional standalone sequel model. One notable challenge from this conflict can be seen during the transitions from The Division 1 to The Division 2, or Destiny 1 to Destiny 2; player retention. Both games had trouble transitioning their player bases from the first instalment to the second, as players are reluctant to let go of their progress and content between the games.
Now, I feel, we are seeing an industry attempt to get around that - by ditching the traditional standalone sequel. Instead, we are seeing the rise of what I term "expandquels;" "sequels" that revamp the game and add content while maintaining interchangeability with the previous instalment, with the eventual goal of merging the two games over time.
We are seeing this with Overwatch 2. We are seeing this with Path of Exile 2. We are seeing this with Phantasy Star Online 3. "Wait a minute," you might say, "there is no Phantasy Star Online 3." Except people who play PSO2 have been telling me that the upcoming Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis is basically PSO3; revamped graphics, new game world, new class system, new damage system, just with ability to transfer character customizations and currencies. Both old PSO2 and NG are going to coexist and be continually updated, with PSO2 apparently being updated to be more graphically in line with NG. Eventually, I expect them to merge the games.
If some speculation is to be believed that the next generation will be shorter than usual, then Halo Infinite's update cycle will be smack in the middle of the transition to the next next generation. At that point, 343 could abandon their 10-year plan and release a new standalone game, but I don't see that happening. Instead, I see them launching a new mega-update which co-exists and interchanges with the base game for a while, before merging the two. If this model proves successful, this could be the future of gaming as a business, and traditional standalone sequels might become more niche.
How do you feel about this? Do you welcome the emergence of "expandquels," or do you think the live service model are going too far?