All good things must come to an end, and in a year from now, a very important member of the Xbox console family will be doing just that. 343 Industries has announced that in December 2021, all online servers for every Halo title on the Xbox 360 will be shut down. This will effectively end online matchmaking for seven entries in the popular series, limiting the titles to their respective single-player campaigns with potential LAN co-op.
Halo Xbox 360 services are going offline in December 2021. Games remain playable indefinitely, but some experiences will be impacted.
— Halo (@Halo) December 18, 2020
In case you’re wondering, the seven affected titles are as follows: Halo: Reach, Halo 4, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Spartan Assault, and Halo Wars. According to 343 Industries, the reasoning for the shut down is due to the immense amount of resources in order to continuously maintain the online services of the games. Another major factor that the studio states is the need to focus on current projects, such as the upcoming Halo: Infinite, which has gone through some turbulence in the development process and was delayed until Fall 2021.
To be fair, the studio has point, as it’s important to note that all of these titles are available to play as backwards compatible games on the Xbox One, as well as the just released Xbox Series X|S, mostly in the form of The Master Chief Collection. The fact that the latter is also available on PC also doesn’t help the situation for the old servers, as these iterations added a plethora of customization options for players to use in online matches. As sad it sounds, the writing was on the wall for the studio, and according to 343 they actually began this process in Fall 2019 when they migrated over 6 million pieces of data from the legacy servers to The Master Chief Collection.
343 Industries will be sun-setting the servers in phases, which includes stopping any and all digital sales of Halo Xbox 360 titles on the Xbox Store effective immediately. After that, the studio will periodically remind everyone throughout 2021 about the server shut off. Then in one year from now, 343 Industries will officially shut off the legacy servers. The studio mentions in their post that while there is no exact date, it will be no sooner than the original date of this blog post.
While this is considered the natural progression of the video game industry, the Halo titles on the Xbox 360 holds an intense feeling of nostalgia for many players, as a lot of the newer generation of gamers grew up playing these games on Microsoft’s wildly popular console. If you’ve been itching to bust out your Xbox 360 for some classic online matchmaking, this is the official notice. You have one year left to make the most of it.