In developing Halo Infinite, Microsoft has said they are going to heavily invest into multiplayer and esports.
At one point, two games dominated the shooter scene on consoles. Call of Duty and Halo were both giant franchises and beloved by fans. But as CoD prepares for Black Ops 4 with events like the Doritos Bowl which features top streamers Ninja, DrLupo, CouRage and Shroud, the Halo competitive scene has fallen from grace.
Ninja, the most popular streamer in the world who recently graced the cover of ESPN the magazine, began his career as a Halo pro but only reached this level of fame through Fortnite. So what happened to the professional Halo scene? Once a pillar of the gaming community, the game’s Twitch streams lie barren and major organizations have disbanded teams.
Look on Twitch, browse by game and scroll down. You will pass games without title pictures, games with only offline modes released in 2005 (Need for Speed: Most Wanted) and many games you have never heard of, before finally reaching Halo: Guardians with 213 viewers at the time of writing.
A large reason for the lack of popularity in the game could be the lack of a formal esports structure. While developers like Epic Games, Blizzard and Riot invest millions into the competitive scene; Microsoft just recently has decided to make Halo esports a point of focus.
“Halo has a long legacy with esports,” said Elizabeth Van Wyck, Microsoft’s Head of Business, Operations and Esports for Halo at Variety’s tech summit earlier this month. “But we have let it be community run. It wasn’t until very recently that we looked at the space and said, ‘We want to significantly invest in it and create a structure that not just has longevity but has consistencies that others can build businesses off of.’”
Unfortunately for Halo, the game may have missed the window. While esports are experiencing massive growth, the games that have benefitted are ones with a built out competitive structure and the games that offer something new and exciting like Battle Royale. With Halo: Infinite on the horizon, Microsoft is finally making the esports scene a priority.
“In developing for the next [Halo] game, it is a key piece of how we think about how we built out multiplayer, which is the mode that our esports is built off of,” Van Wyck said in the same summit. “Thinking about how people will view it. Thinking about how they will play it. But at the end of the day, we have to build an awesome game.”
Better late than never I suppose but Halo: Infinite better have the power of a defibrillator because the competitive scene is clinging to life. CLEAR!