The next addition to the Halo franchise, Halo Infinite, releasing later this year will feature Free-to-Play multiplayer, breaking from the norm for XBOX and Microsoft. Traditionally, XBOX has always required an XBOX Live account that required "Gold" to operate online play - essentially, there was a monthly subscription service for XBOX online multiplayer.
XBOX competitor consoles, like Sony's PlayStation, have historically offered online multiplayer for free to all its users, making it more attractive for many, especially kids and teenagers who don't have their own means to hand over a wad of cash each month. Now, with Halo Infinite's upcoming release, the paywall in front of XBOX's online play may be all but gone. VentureBeat journalist, Jeff Grubb, said on Twitter he believes they'll do away with their current system, no longer requiring a monthly subscription for any game, stating it would only make sense to remove it for Halo if they were removing it altogether.
Esports personality, Rod "Slasher" Breslau states his hopes for the potential growth of Halo and its esports scene. Halo has had multiple factors holding it back as an esport over the years. Not only did it have a paywall for multiplayer, but it also historically was only available on a single platform. Most games are made available across multiple platforms, but certain games are released as console specific titles. PlayStation has God of War, The Last of Us Part II, and many more, Microsoft and XBOX has the Halo series, Sea of Thieves, etc.
Though Halo Infinite is still exclusive to XBOX, the lack of a paygate may increase the playerbase taking to its online play. Additionally, the move will likely increase the overall playerbase it general, especially if more people consider purchasing an XBOX with the removal of XBOX Live Gold.
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