While we tend to think of Microsoft’s Halo franchise as one of the more important franchises in gaming, the series hasn’t risen to the level of global success that we might think it has.
Granted, this largely comes down to platform availability. While Microsoft’s popular line of Xbox consoles has maintained steady popularity throughout North America and Europe, the same can’t be said for the rising markets in Asia, specifically areas such as China and Russia. While video games are quite popular in these parts, most actual play time isn’t done on consoles and dedicated handheld devices. Instead, gaming is largely done on mobile devices and PCs, as these two types of electronics are widely available, and are much more economical to purchase than a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, in comparison.
That being said, free-to-play titles are much more widespread and popular in these parts, compared to more traditional games sold via retail. As you might imagine, publishers such as Microsoft and Activision are aiming to break into these markets. Activision in particular has already made their mark with Call of Duty Online, a free-to-play title that is currently in open beta, available exclusively in China.
While it was relatively unknown for the most part, Microsoft was also in the midst of developing their own free-to-play Halo title, which was being worked on in collaboration with Russian publisher Innova Systems along with Saber Interactive, who is best known for their work on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
As reported by Gamasutra, Halo Online, which had undergone closed alpha and beta testing last year, has now been cancelled. While details on its cancellation are scarce, one member of the development team chalks it up to Microsoft, who had “failed to make decisions on the future of the project” over the last six months.