Bungie: Why Halo 3: ODST Firefight Doesn’t Support Matchmaking

Bungie: Why Halo 3: ODST Firefight Doesn’t Support Matchmaking

Halo 3: ODST features a new multiplayer mode called Firefight. It’s kinda like the Horde mode from Gears of War 2. For some reason though, it doesn’t support matchmaking.

When I spoke with Bungie producer Curtis Creamer last week, I asked him why they don’t support matchmaking in Firefight. He explained how it comes down to a technical issue.

Firefight is based on the cooperative campaign mode from Halo 3. It uses that as a base technology with all the same gameplay mechanics, including AI. Matchmaking was simply not part of that Halo 3 campaign.

“With this game we wanted to make sure everyone knew this was built off the Halo 3 engine, which is why we left Halo 3 in the title of it,” says Creamer. “That was basically one of the limitations we had, that we couldn’t just add matchmaking for Firefight because it was based upon the cooperative Campaign gameplay.

“It would’ve been a massive technical rewrite of code, and we didn’t think it would have been the right thing to invest in anyway because it’s meant to be a cooperative experience you have with friends.”

Of course, when playing Firefight, just as when playing the cooperative campaigns from Halo 3 and ODST, you can party up with your friends. Creamer says the idea behind Firefight is not to play with a bunch of strangers online, but to enjoy a more intimate experience that harks back to the early days of Halo.

“It’s really trying to get back to that same sort of experience we had in Halo 1 multiplayer,” says Creamer. “Since there was no Live then and no matchmaking, you really had to get together with your friends, you know, have LAN parties at your house and have that cool social experience with your buddies all sitting together. Firefight is really all about getting together with your friends online and playing that way.

“So in a way matchmaking is not something that makes a lot of sense in that kind of system, even though in reality it’s not something we would have been able to pull off anyway.”

I’m not a competitive multiplayer gamer. Co-op is more my style, having played through Halo 3, Gears 2, Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead and others recently. Personally I wouldn’t want to play those co-op games with strangers, preferring instead to schedule sessions with people I know.

But maybe I’m just weird. Do you play co-op games with strangers? Or do you stick with your friends? Is the lack of matchmaking here really a big deal?


  • Unfortunatly my friends are lazy and so we don’t play co-op much. That being said, if there was a choice id rather play lan style than with strangers over the internet.

  • Every couple of months I get together with my friends at one persons house and play Halo 3 via LAN. Having everyone in the same space just makes the interaction more fun.
    I rarely play online with strangers. I find it weird and spooky.

  • Ya know, as a whole this new Halo game doesn’t appeal to me really. Looking at the above screenshot simply evokes the word ‘bland’.

  • To me it sounds like their trying to make this disadvantage sound as positive as possible.

    That’s like one of my friends dying and the killer saying to me “Well, that means one less christmas present now!”.

    I’m not angry at them, It’s perfectly resonable if it was too much of a technical issue. Though I’m betting that many people might be turned down becuase of this fact.

    • Yeah that’s the feeling I get too.

      Hey we’re lazy and don’t want to do it, but it’s a good thing, because blahblahblahblahblah.


      • “Hey we’re lazy and don’t want to do it, but it’s a good thing,”

        I don’t think that’s really fair. I’ve never met a game developer who has lasted at his job who is also lazy.

        Most developers I know work very hard indeed, are passionate about what they created, work for a fraction of what they could earn in other IT jobs, with far less job security.

        Calling them lazy is just … lazy. And there’s no way any programmer at Bungie is lazy. They’re some of the best in the industry.

        The problem is that game development is all about tradeoffs. It’s a blend of engineering, art, craft. Some things are possible, but only at exorbitant cost in terms of money, manpower, deadlines and sanity.

        Frankly, it’s a amazing what Halo 3 already does. What other games do you know that allow you to matchmake, play 4 player co-op online, have free-roaming cameras in film recordings, etc, all at a rock-solid framerate? (Hint: Gears, Uncharted and Killzone 2 don’t even ATTEMPT this level of sophistication.)

    • I must admit, i absolutely love the game, but not everyone has their friends on all the time. If you put it very very simply, you cant play firefight unless u have friends. What i dont understand is that microsoft/xbox/bungie(or whoever does halo now) expects everyone to have their friends on ALL THE TIME, the point of xbox live is to communicate with everyone from different parts of the globe. I cant tell my friends to go home and make sure they’re home just because i wanna play firefight.

      I can see why it may be a problem, but its bein a bit harsh sayin that u can only play it if u have friends…..i have lots of friends but they are rarely on due to time difference. At least make an option to play with or without friends JUST LIKE U HAVE EVERYTHING ELSE!!!!!! WHY THE HELL SHOULD THE BEST GAME MODE BE ANY DIFFERENT!?!?

      Sorry im a bit miffed, i love you guys coz u brought me the game but this is just stupid

  • I like playing custom games with random people. You can tell what kind of player they are from them. I’ve become good friends with a few, and those few I’ll play co-op with.
    I like the idea of no matchmaking. Hopefully there’ll be less betrayals this way

  • so… let me get this right:

    the single player is just DLC based on the halo 3 code.

    the firefight mode, just a halo3 single player level with random enemies.

    and the multiplayer, just the halo3 multiplayer on a separate disc.

    yet the price is the same as a brand new game which needs to recoup development costs but then they tell us its “too expensive” to incorporate matchmaking?


    • Well I can tell you’re probably a PS3 fanboy, probably from Sony fanboy HQ neogaf as well, rather than a legitimate commenter, because that’s how they act. Nevertheless I will respond.

      The campaign is hardly “DLC”.

      I’m not thrilled with this game either (wish it had a new graphics engine, for example), but in the end I’ll definitely buy it for $59, and most likely enjoy it, and thats all MS cares about.

      Price bitching is usually stupid, dont like it dont buy it. Thats the nature of free enterprise. Plenty of people will buy this. I’m expecting huge sales for this, as is microsoft.

    • Not too expensive, they just can’t. It’s technically limiting, and if they DID add it, ODST would probably have to be pushed back a couple of months to rewrite the code.

      Also, you get Halo 3 Multiplayer on a seperate disc with ALL the maps. And you get a slightly shorter campaign, I think the $60 is just about justified.

    • I’m in total agreement with PHS!
      I consider this a big time rip-off on Bungie’s part especially since they had the game completed in late spring of ’09. Multi-Player should have been addressed and remedied with that time.
      I feel like I have been suckered by a Halo sized shell game and for the first time I have a less than respectful attitude for a Game Studio that I have supported since the original XBox and Halo to date. I consider this a giant step backward in the evolution of the Halo franchise. Shame on you, Bungie.

      p.s. I guess I’m going to have to get a GameSpy Tunnel App so it can be just like Halo 1

      • Yeah, the £40 was a little excessive, but I think some of you are forgetting something. Microsoft decide the pricing. Bungie have no say in it. So moaning about Bungie putting the price tag up too high is dumb.

    • Then why bother making match-making systems in any games at all?

      There will always be team-killers and the like, but they are outweighned by the poeple whom want to play the games properly.

  • Thanks very much David for asking my questions.

    I guess I can understand their view, Part of me suspected that it was most likely a technical issue and seeing as how they no longer own the halo franchise, methinks deadlines and the like would have been very important. And it would be hard having to incorporate two different systems and engines on one game, with firefight having something dfferent to the single player campaign.

    I’m not happy about it, but what can you do. I guess it’s lucky my friends list isn’ very big, I can visit some forums and fill them up with people who want to play firefight constantly.

  • It kinda bugs me but kinda doesn’t.

    Still not sure whether to get this and i’m a BIG Halo fan.

    But i do notice in games like CoD & Gears in Horde & Nazi Zombies, people will just leave and then you’re left alone or the game quits. At least with it being with friends online or LAN, you know the people aren’t gonna be shit-heads and screw the game up and quit on you.

    But at the same time, you’re friends aren’t always going to be online or at your house to play Firefight with you. So its basically up to, whether your friends list is made up by a lot of Halo players that will buy ODST and play Firefight or not, OR if you wanna play by yourself.

    BTW: If you play by yourself, do you get any AI Controlled team mates???

  • “Firefight is based on the cooperative campaign mode from Halo 3. It uses that as a base technology with all the same gameplay mechanics, including AI.”

    I was afraid of that. Halo 3’s co-op campaign with my friends is usually a very “slippery” process. There’s usually a slight delay between when I send my input from the controller and when it actually plays out, which makes the co-op campaign not all that fun.

    Hopefully it won’t still be problem in Firefight, or at least a much smaller one, otherwise what this expansion (or “new full game”, to Microsoft) is supposedly standing on will fall flat for me.

  • Pathetic Halo Stan, look around, depending on what country you’re in, there are some good deals to be had on ODST.

    If you don’t want to pay full price, you really don’t have to.

    Sucks about no MM though. There are times when friends aren’t online and I’d rather play a game with 3 randoms than by myself. Ya know? Its a good way to find new friends as well.

  • I also think it would of been awesome if there was a match made system. Just like Halo 3 matchmaking but with ODST.

  • If they don’t want to put the time and effort into adding Matchmaking system for one of the biggest selling points of the game, then they shouldn’t charge $60 for it. Especially when there isn’t much else in the package to justify the $60 price.

  • Lack of matchmaking doesn’t mean this mode can’t be played online though right?

    IE: Creating the game, then inviting friends into it (assuming you all have Live Gold) will still work right?

  • I work and have family and only 20 minutes time to game everyday, i don’t have time to schedule gaming parties. I play left4dead and Gears of war co-op with strangers everyday …and 95% of the time it has been a positive experience plus i got a whole new bunch of friends across the globe. It would be nice to have the option ..GOW2 and left4dead give me that and most of the people Ive encountered online also just want to have fun and play the game the way it supposed to be played.

  • this is a let down as all my freinds are achivement hunters soon as they claim the achivement they are off and wont play it again, i watched trailers and people say its better than gears but how? i bet you cant get to the big waves on your own, and would be very time consuming searching and asking halo players to play it, gears sounds alot better than this already as it gives you the option to play with strangers and you can play it anytime your in the mood for it

  • if anyone could plzzzzzz answer me i get like 300 games found but 0 matches in matchmaking it wont let me play do i like have family setting on and if so how do i get off plz help!?

  • I don’t really like the idea of no matchmaking in firefight. I mean, what if none of your mates where online? Or if they don’t want to play? I can’t wait for firefight but i would rather be able to play anytime i wanted to and i think the decision they made will have bad repercussions.

  • yea your sayin that but wot if nun of your friends play halo then your fucked its a supid ider not 2 includ matchmakin in firefight.

  • Well it is a bit of a let down about the non-MM firefight. It might have a bad turn out seeing as games like gears of war have the ability to play with strangers and maybe meet some new friends across the globe. But by the same token, i do like the decision they made because it sticks with the true halo game, instead of incorporating other game engines. In gears it is a bit of a pain if you have teammates that quit on you when your in the high levels. (example: i got to wave 49 with a bunch of random guys and girls, but one decided that it would be funny to leave as he knew he was host, which also is a big pain in horde to get so far and not be able to finsh.) In my opinion the final decision they made was the right one. The feel of playing with people you know will stick with you and if you want to play it serious, will play like its their life on the line. Or if you want to mess around, you can. Its all in good fun.

  • Unfortunatly my friends don’t play halo so I’ve always been playing with “strangers” as you call it… So I won’t be able to play firefight online anytime… I really looked forward to my pre-order but now I’m a bit disappointend about that lack. Sorry but I mostly play online so this means much to me.

  • So im new to the halo games so in order to play this odst i have to go and buy a halo 3 disk or am i reading this wrong. Thanks

  • I think this “expansion pack”, already wasn’t worth the 60 bucks,and made the game mediocre, but to not have matchmaking is just mediocre overkill. Bad dicision BUNGIE.

  • “It’s really trying to get back to that same sort of experience we had in Halo 1 multiplayer,”

    Seeing as though the main reason people LOVED Halo 1 multi-player was for the PvP Slayer, CTF, etc.. the fact that this is their reasoning, and yet ALL of that is left off of this game is a mega FAIL.

    I have owned every single Halo game to date (hell I went through two Halo 2 discs) and I will not purchase this one.

    And regards to the asinine comment that “Noone wants to play co-op with strangers” I would say that the WHOLE premise behind Left 4 Dead is all about player co-op (or versus) with strangers in a matchmaking style.

    Sorry Bungie, but I wont be buying this one, but Im sure there are plenty who will reward this poo sandwich as a subway fresh sandwich.

    Next purchase: Left 4 Dead 2!

  • This game was not full price here in the UK.. even though i would have paid the full price. The campaign was great fun! and the multiplayer disc has 3 exclusive maps that halo 3 dont have.. and im pretty sure buying ODST is the only way to get them certain maps..

    i was quite dissapointed with firefight though if Epic could do it why couldnt Bungie.. what i read above just sounds like excuses. Dont get me wrong game developers are not lazy. Some of them actually live at theyre computer desks for weeks working constantly and fueld by take outs and coffee. I just think they choose to leave out matchmaking but it definatly was the wrong choice! lets hope to see an update in the near future.

  • Well I you want a random person add me! Gamertag: Turk3ybas3d
    I’m 26 so you shouldn’t need to worry about me screaming at mommy that I just want 10 more minutes….the wife maybe though 😉

  • Yeah, Firefight will die off very fast. The halo 3 multiplayer will go strong for quite some time, but with no matchmaking, it’s not worth it. I have a full friends list… and all my bros are onto the next game every time one coumes out. Would be hard to get them onto and consistantly interested in playing Firefight, which is freaking impossible solo. Especially in the second wave when there’s 20 grunts all double chucking plasma grenades at you. Anyways, usually I pick up players in halo3 multiplayer and bring them over to campaign mode, can’t even do that in ODST because they are separate games / discs. Thanks for the awesome campaign bungie, but I would have rather had a longer one over a fairly useless multiplayer mode that will be gone in a few months.

  • i would defiantly wait another 2-4 months just to have matchmaking like Nazi zombies dose, dont really know that many people to play a full 4 player game,

  • I have one or two friends I will play with online but most the time they are not online when I am. Bedsides most the time I play co-op its when the person is in the room with me.

    I would have liked to see matchmaking.

  • It is a shame to see that a company that can do so much, tried so little. I have beaten the single player part, and though it has a o.k. story, it is not 60$ good. The multiplayer is useless to 90% of you guys, because you already bought it! The firefight mode is far inferior to gears, (NO weapons around, and it is impossible to get far solo.) Still they will bank off this because people pre-order in legions before bad news like this gets out… Pre-order for 60, the sell it to gamestop for 15$? Nice DLC Bungie

  • I wouldnt mind playin with “strangers”. Are you really afraid to play with “strangers”. We are all people so fuck it, why not play with “strangers”. i wouldve never have bought this game if i knew that i couldnt play fire fight online with matchmaking. This was a big F U to all the people who bought this game. THANKS HALO GAME MAKERS YOU ASS HOLES!!!!!!!

  • the problem is when they say “matchmaking” they’re talking about this complicated system that puts people together based on their skill, rank, or whatever. we don’t need all that for this

    I think it’s pretty sad saying they did it in some attempt to go back to the LIMITATIONS of halo 1. it was no fun bringing you’re tv and xbox over to a friends house to play together. we did it cause it was the only way, not because having to carry a heavy tv with 2 people helps strengthen your friendship

  • This is bullshit you should at least have the option to play with strangers or play with friends some people dont have many friends on so it be hard to find others to play and noone wants to ask or send messages to other players asking to play firefight im already thinking about bringing this dam game back!!

  • That was just pure lazzinesss!!!!!! All that stuff about playing with your friends and getting back to halo 1 is just B S. Its a cover up

  • If there’s no matchmaking, how does the option “Open Party Xbox live” works? It’s discription says its for any recent players playing it, and i don’t find any game at all to join too…

  • I’ve been playing halo since 1 as a freshman in college, and I did all the campus LAN’s and played 2 and 3 online for a good bit and I do realize co-op is different from vs, but now that there aren’t LAN parties allll around me, I really wish I could be matched w people that wanna play odst legendary. I love playing w my friends but they just aren’t my calibur, and no one likes to hold down a whole wave alone until a hammer tiptoes behind you. I understand the technical and code rewriting problems, I wish I could easily reach these players. not these scrubs on this board :p jk jk

  • I just got ODST and I’m very disappointed. I only have one friend who has it and he hasn’t played on Live in over a month. The only reason I got the game in the first place was because of Firefight mode and I’m upset I can’t play it. I think that Bungie should have allowed players to play with friends in a party or choose to play with random people as they did with matchmaking before.

  • The “we think this should be played with friends, not random players” is a translation of “it was way more profitable to release it without matchmaking, due to the costs of rewriting the code”. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Of course its better with friends, but the chances of you always having friends on and ready to play firefight are few and far between. Sorry Bungie, you arent getting my $60 without having matchmaking on the games best offering.

  • Me personally, i think its more fun to meet new people. Even if its just over XboxLive, i think its a much more appriciated factor of all xbox games. Not having matchmaking on Halo ODST was a downfall for me, i was so mad when i bought it and i tryed to play Firefight online but there was no matchmaking, only friend invite.

    Well Hopefully You Can Some How Have An Update Of Some Sort To Fix This Problem.

  • I specifically didn’t buy this game when I heard about the lack of matchmaking. At first I thought that the person telling me this was mistaken. I rarely manage to sync up with friends to play together, so firefight is useless to me without matchmaking. If they can match people up for deathmatch, I don’t see why they can’t do the same thing for Firefight, but who knows how they implemented that. I produced a small PSN game that has matchmaking (we only had 2-3 programmers total on the project), and we considered matchmaking to be a critical feature. So, it’s really hard to understand how matchmaking wasn’t a must-have feature for Bungie.

  • Lack of matchmaking is ridiculous…. I had played multilayer for 1 month and i used youtube as matchmaking tool …. thanks Bungie ; There are so many new games in the market: Left 4 dead 2, Assassins Creed II, MW 2 , Forza 3 etc; that even after adding 30 random people as friends from youtube to play odst i can hardly find anyone to play firefight with me ( they play other games)

    tip : Do not make EVER AGAIN multilayer mode without Matchmaking

    Its like making a car without steering wheel … you can still drive it if you step on gas…. but how far?

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