Halo Infinite's Joseph Staten has discussed the year-long delay to the game, saying that while it was "very, very hard", he is "so proud of the studio and Xbox" for make the decision to prioritise player experience over putting an unfinished game out.
With Halo Infinite's multiplayer is out in the wild, and apart from early criticisms of the game's Battle Pass system, the game is largely receiving praise from fans. While final verdicts on next month's campaign are still to come, the multiplayer's positive reception is the first step in what could be a huge redemption story for Halo Infinite.
After a reveal that left many fans underwhelmed and led to Craig the Brute's rise to internet stardom, Halo Infinite was delayed from its Holiday 2020 launch window all the way to Q4 2021. In hindsight, even Phil Spencer said he regrets how the reveal went down.
Now, we're learning even more about what was going on inside Xbox and developer 343 during the delay of Halo Infinite. Speaking on IGN Unfiltered, Halo veteran Joseph Staten went in-depth on his experience working on Infinite, from joining the project part way through development, to the tough decision to delay the game out of the Xbox Series X's launch window.
On a hot summer day in 2020, the internet was ablaze with negative reactions to Halo Infinite's big reveal. Staten, who is known for his work on Bungie's original Halo trilogy, wanted to see if he could help. He called Bonnie Ross, VP at Xbox Game Studios to see if he could help at all with the seemingly troubled development of Halo Infinite. Now, Staten says that was the start of a "brand new career."
Staten, who was instrumental in the success of Bungie's Halo games, was all of a sudden thrust into the role of Project Lead for Halo Infinite's campaign.
Inside 343's Decision to Delay Halo Infinite
In August 2020, shortly after Halo Infinite's big campaign debut, the news of the delay came out. Staten says there was a lot of stress and pressure involved with the delay, even though it ended up being the right choice.
"[There was] a huge amount of pressure to stay the course. I think a really wonderful example of Xbox leadership doing the right thing for our fans, doing the right thing […] for players, even though it hurt them, Even though there were costs associated with that." Staten said. "It was 100% a player-first decision, and I'm so proud of the studio and Xbox for making that decision."
Staten says the campaign benefitted the most from the delay because it's the "largest Halo campaign we've ever made." The team was also grateful for more time to work on the multiplayer, Staten says the difference is that multiplayer, "doesn't have the same surface area as the campaign."
The team looked at 10 different main areas of the game they wanted to work on. Staten says two of the 10 areas were how to identify and find equipment easily, and how to use the grapple hook, which he calls the "fourth leg" of Halo combat, in addition to weapons, melee, and grenades.
Staten added that another main goal was to finish the game in a healthy way for the studio, to prepare them for moving onto supporting the live service aspect of Halo Infinite. Even though the game is coming out in full next month, not every feature will be there at launch. Fan-favorite modes like campaign co-op and Forge won't show up until May 2022 at the earliest.
Delaying Halo Infinite co-op was "very, very hard," according to Staten. He says the simple truth is that, "co-op wasn't ready," and 343 decided to prioritize effort in other areas, like making sure performance is stable on all platforms.
"If we don't maintain a high bar, if we don't commit ourselves to excellence and commit ourselves to every time we launch something to delighting our customers, living up to their expectations, ideally exceeding our expectations, I don't think we're doing this job right," Staten said.
For more on the development of Halo Infinite, check out the full interview with 343's Joseph Staten. And, be sure to check out our preview of Infinite's campaign.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.