The Xbox Series X is losing its marquee launch title. Today, 343 Industries announced that Halo Infinite is being delayed to a 2021 launch "to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets [the team's] vision."
In a statement released via Twitter, Halo Infinite's Studio Head Chris Lee explains that the decision was made based on "multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges," including difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges," Lee writes. "However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or to the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday."
At last month's Xbox showcase, 343 released the first-ever gameplay footage of Infinite in action. While many reacted positively to how the preview demonstrated the openness of Infinite's campaign environments and showed off new equipment like the grappleshot, others came away from the presentation with concerns about its graphical fidelity. In the weeks since, team members at 343 responded to some of the criticisms and even openly embraced a popular meme that followed in the showcase's wake.
Last year, the exits of Creative Director Tim Longo and Lead Producer Mary Olson made headlines and raised questions regarding Infinite's development. At the time, a 343 representative said the departures were not signs of a "creative dilemma inside the studio[.]"
Back in April, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said that he didn't think Microsoft would hold back the launch of the Series X for any game, including Halo Infinite. That's now become a reality, as today Microsoft has also confirmed that the Series X will launch in November.