Every game has its day in the sun, and eventually, any that rely on online servers will face a sunset. Halo games for the Xbox 360 are reaching that point, and Microsoft announced plans to shut down online services for the games in December 2021. The good news is, if you’re playing through the Master Chief Collection, you escape the chopping block—for now.
In a blog post released online, Microsoft and 343 Industries explained the situation. Maintaining the technologies that enable online services in games like Halo Reach, Halo 4, and others built for Xbox 360 takes more and more time every year, which takes resources away from creating and maintaining newer games.
At the same time, due to the games’ age, fewer and fewer players are joining online matches in the elder games. So it’s a double whammy: more and more required resources needed for fewer and fewer benefits. Something had to give, and it’s the old games.
You’re getting plenty of warning though. Microsoft said that it wouldn’t shut down the online servers “sooner than” December 18, 2021. And this affects the 360 versions of the game, regardless of the platform you use to play the games. Halo 3, loaded up on an Xbox One or an Xbox Series X, still uses an emulated Xbox 360, and thus, the same underlying technologies. The exception is when you play the games through the Master Chief Collection. Microsoft and 343 Industries updated the embedded games to use newer technologies supported on Xbox One and beyond.
The newest game of the bunch, Halo 4, was released in 2014, which means that Microsoft will support that game for seven years (counting the year to come), and the other games even longer. To prevent any unwelcome surprises, the company removed the option to digitally purchase the games from its storefront.
And you’ll still be able to play the games locally, either through campaigns or local matchmaking servers. It’s just online play using Microsoft’s servers that’s going away. The full list of affected games is as follows:
- Halo: Reach
- Halo 4
- Halo 3
- Halo 3: ODST
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
- Spartan Assault
- Halo Wars
Enjoy your online time while you still can. The countdown to the shutdown has already begun.