Halo and Beyond: What’s Next for the Halo Franchise in 2023

Key Points

  • Halo Infinite updates are essential to the long-term health of the brand. 

  • Halo’s expanded universe media helps the games develop new and great stories, locations, and characters.

  • Next-generation gaming and gaming innovation’s future still has Halo front and center.

  • Fan engagement, merchandise, and esports tournament events must return to the basics.

  • Whatever is next will be next. Halo endures.

Over 20 years after Bungie released Combat Evolved, Halo remains one of the most iconic, unique, and recognizable brands gaming has ever produced. Nothing and no one offers what Halo does. The franchise has sold hundreds of millions of copies and created generations of passionate fans. Arbiter’s story in Halo 2 remains a narrative favorite for Dino-enthusiasts, who await an Elite armor core in Infinite with bated breath. Halo spawned dozens of unique communities that no other game has, before or since. 

What’s next for the franchise? In this rundown, you'll discover what to expect in 2023 and beyond. 

Halo Infinite Updates

343 Industries’ messaging has been clear, despite layoffs to the art and campaign teams: Halo Infinite will have continued support as a live-service multiplayer title. Season 3: Echoes Within’s updates offered new weapons, equipment, maps, playlists, and revamped ranking systems. This level of polish is essential to the health of the franchise.

Halo video game

343’s plans for Season 4 remain unofficial and speculative, but what is known is that Season 3 ends on June 19, 2023. Halo Infinite updates have added surprise maps and fresh playlists, so here’s hoping that the Season 4 update will provide enough of a draw to bring longtime players back from a break and keep current players prompting their friends to play.

A healthy Halo Infinite is essential for the long-term health of the franchise. A fresh-faced team leading 343 Industries is cause for optimism in that direction. New studio head Pierre Hintze got The Master Chief Collection turned around from a disastrous launch, giving fans hope that Halo Infinite can grow into a great game. Hopefully, it also means that whatever game is next will stick the landing on launch instead of being marred by controversy.

Expanded Universe 

The Halo franchise will continue to expand its rich universe through books, comics, and other media, offering fans new stories and characters to explore with a steady stream of fun stuff to read, listen to, and watch.

Video gamer playing on computer

Halo has always been fit for a rich universe, built and designed by creative and talented minds and inhabited by mythic and dynamic characters. Even the Halo TV show (yep, that one) on Paramount+ falls under the expanded universe media umbrella, although the team relegated that story to a separate timeline.

Halo’s expanded universe media began shortly before the success of Combat Evolved with The Fall of Reach novel written by Erik Nylund. Popular novels since then include The Flood, Ghosts of Onyx, and Contact Harvest, the last written by Joe Staten — former Bungie director of cinematics and key writer of the first Halo trilogy. The latest book on 343 Industries’ docket is Epitaph, releasing in January 2024.  

Next-Gen Consoles 

Bungie’s Halo games made Xbox into the household name it is. As new generation hardware rolls out, expect new Halo experiences to follow, with state-of-the-art features and expanded mechanics of what makes the series unique. 

Pushing gaming technology forward is a Halo tradition. As more powerful, next-gen consoles are released, the series will continue pushing the boundaries of technological possibilities, offering stunning visuals, immersive experiences, and hilarious games with friends.

Video gamer celebrating

Halo Infinite and The Master Chief Collection are the go-to games for now. Parts of the Halo 5: Guardians player base remain intact for its unique sandbox and advanced movement mechanics different than any other series entry. Whatever the next game looks like, it will release on top-of-the-line Xbox hardware (and probably PC too).

Halo Championship Series Esports 

Halo Championship Series (HCS) is the premier league for top Halo players and provides electric levels of play and open friendlies for like-minded aspiring talent. Powerful esports brands like FaZe Clan and Cloud9 have partnered with Microsoft to support professional players in their pursuit of Halo World Championships (and their dedicated armor kits in the Halo Infinite shop are pristine). 

HCS is where the best Halo players reside, with regular esports tournament events attracting every sub-community of the franchise; the Forgers, who create maps and game modes, machinima enthusiasts who replicate the hilarity of Rooster Teeth’s Red vs. Blue, cosplayers, and aspiring professional players enter team and free-for-all competitions. 

Ensuring professional organizations and their players are happy doesn’t have to come at the cost of a casual audience, as Halo 2 and Halo 3 proved. Competitive gaming remains an essential pillar in Halo’s success, and in-person events are a proven draw for players and fans, celebrating what they love about this series.  

Playing video games

New Spin-Offs 

With the success of games like Halo Wars (original and 2), Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach, it’s not outlandish to say that 343 might be considering new spin-off gameplay experiences. Plenty of story ideas are floating around that could become their own stories, including a Halo Wars 3 — a long-overdue Arbiter-focused game — and potential games focused on Blue Team and perhaps Spartan Locke.

New spin-offs gameplay doesn’t have to be entirely relegated to first-person shooters. Spartan Assault is a top-down shooter like Hotline Miami and XCOM. Halo Wars is a real-time strategy series that fans love. If 343 decides to greenlight a new spin-off, it better have a highly polished story and gameplay draw — whether it’s an actual first-person shooter or not.  

Fan Engagement 

Halo’s ability to retain fans is something to admire, but it also earns scrutiny. Merchandising is a great grab for collectors and superfans. Fan engagement merchandise, collectibles, T-shirts, and even something like Infinite’s in-game shop retain players — when done correctly.

Man with headphones on computer

Halo Infinite’s customization is hit-and-miss from most players’ perspectives. The in-game shop offers sleek cosmetics for your Spartan but little to no flexibility across its armor core system. While it’s a clear monetization method, it does very little regarding fan goodwill. Franchise fans widely panned the live-action Paramount+ series, and it failed to gain much traction in creating new audiences. 

The success of other video game adaptations like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Last of Us series on HBO, including high praise by critics and fans alike, is a stark contrast. Their reception means there is a market for a great Halo series, but only with an adaptation that aligns with the spirit of what makes the games great.

Halo Infinite video game

Continued Innovation

Gaming innovation into the future is another longtime Halo tradition. The series' interactive gaming features and dedicated console play pioneered broadband online play for consoles, making Xbox's success possible. As emerging technology intersects with gaming, most notably virtual reality experiences, Halo can offer immersive and interactive gaming features for players in these new theaters of play.

Above all, the Halo franchise will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of gaming, virtual reality gaming experiences, new consoles, and new genres, offering exciting new experiences for fans and players alike.

While Time Marches On, Halo Always Endures

Since its inception, Halo has been about heroism, wonder, mystery, and communal fun. Through all its ups and down, a dedicated fanbase has continued to love and support Halo's success while voicing grievances when it falters. The series can see its glory days again, and Halo Infinite is the closest 343 Industries has come to catching that lightning in a bottle that Bungie did all those years ago.

This speaks to Halo’s magic. Players haven’t forgotten their fondest experiences with Halo; they root for the expansion, exploration, and gameplay the Halo universe offers. Halo has always pushed gaming technology forward and continues to do so. As Halo Infinite marches into the future, rest assured that Halo endures. As Xbox head Phil Spencer says, “If we lose our way with Halo, we lose our way with Xbox.

Whatever is next will be next. Halo endures. 

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