Halo Online Fan Project Goes On Hold After Microsoft Intervenes 

A team of modders working to make the unreleased Halo Online playable have halted work after Microsoft contacted them in an effort to protect its intellectual property.

Screenshot: Halo Online

Developed for the Russian market and based in the Halo 3 engine, Halo Online would have been only the third game in the series to be playable online on PC. However, Microsoft ceased development in 2016. After this, modders began working on "ElDewrito", a launcher for the incomplete game that added new features and made the game playable outside of Russia.

Last week the team behind the ElDewrito mod announced its 0.6 release was imminent with a new trailer. It got a lot of people excited again at the prospect of a polished yet old-school Halo multiplayer experience finally being available again for people on PC.

That trailer has since been taken down, followed by a post yesterday on the official Halo blog of developer 343 Industries explaining why continued development on the project was infringing on Microsoft's intellectual property rights.

"While we are humbled and inspired to see the amount of passion poured into this project, the fact remains that it's built upon Microsoft-owned assets that were never lawfully released or authorised for this purpose," 343 wrote in the post.

"As this project reverberated across the community, our team took a step back to assess the materials and explore possible avenues, while Microsoft, like any company, has a responsibility to protect its IP, code and trademarks. It's not optional in other words."

The studio sought to distinguish Halo Online and the accompanying ElDewrito mod that requires Microsoft-owned assets and code, some of which remains active in current Halo games, to work, from things such as the Halo Custom Edition editing tools and the Halo-inspired but completely fan-made Installation 01 game.

Halo Online was never made "open source" or left as "abandonware," wrote 343. Microsoft issued DMCA takedown notices back when illicit copies of Halo Online first began circulating during and after its development. With interest rising again, the studio reached out to the ElDewrito mod team to notify them the project was not considered kosher and the modders needed to "hit pause".

One of the Halo Online maps as it appears when playable using the ElDewrito mod. Screenshot: ElDewrito

What exactly hitting pause means is somewhat unclear though. In an email to Kotaku, a Microsoft spokesperson declined to provide comment on what "pause" means in this context.

In a blog post that went up just a few hours after 343's, the ElDewrito team was also vague about the situation. "There was no Cease and Desist, no DMCA, just an brief conversation about what they suggest we do," wrote team member RabidSquabbit in the post.

According to the Eldewrito team, Microsoft is not trying to shut down the mod itself, but rather get Halo Online code removed from any of the places it's currently be hosted online for new downloads.

While the team has temporarily halted development at 343's request, it says 0.6 is still available and encourages everyone who wants to to resume playing as normal. In the days since the new version of the mod was released on April 20, the ElDewrito team says there has been a lot of activity, claiming that when their blog post was published yesterday Halo Online had over 8000 people playing simultaneously.

Whether simply halting further development on the project will be enough to satisfy either Microsoft or 343 is unclear. While 343's blog post didn't say anything specifically about PC Halo games currently in development, it said it gets the message loud and clear that the PC gaming community wants one.

"Halo has an incredibly passionate community and we're always excited to see their creativity come to life," a Microsoft spokesperson elaborated in an email to Kotaku.

"Creating quality Halo experiences on Windows 10 PC is important to us and we have ambitions to further empower the Halo content creator community to operate in an official capacity and hope to partner together as we bring these plans to fruition."


Comments

    MSoft are well within their rights to put a stop to the project but to what end exactly?
    They decided not to release it so where is the harm in letting enthusiasts make use of it?
    I know that’s a slightly naive take on it but hey I’m an optimist.

    'just an brief conversation about what they suggest we do'

    I'm going to speculate that suggestion was remove any and all code that originated from the old Halo online build along with any and all references to Halo and related IP ;)

      Kotaku shuts down another fan project, good one guys!!

      (I'm kidding)

    This happens time and time again. What did people expect would happen?

    I miss Halo. It's been 8 years since the last game.

    Honestly, it is unsurprising and I'm not sure why it's news that a corporation enforced its IP ownership over the illegitimate use. They have to enforce the IP ownership otherwise it will be seen as them giving it away, these fan studios would honestly save themselves a lot of hassle and time if they just build the framework, pipeline, and demo to pitch it as a legitimate business proposal to get it officially made.

    Developed for the Russian market and based in the Halo 3 engine, Halo Online would have been only the third game in the series to be playable online on PC.

    Ehh?

    1) Halo PC
    2) Halo Custom Edition
    3) Halo 2 Vista
    4) Halo 5 Forge
    5) Halo Online
    6) Halo Wars 2

    343 and Microsoft's long noses know no bounds.
    they are in it for the money, not the player.
    this is what happens when organisations have more power than they should

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