Microsoft delays new 'Halo' game, its best chance at winning this fall's console wars, until 2021

Key Points
  • Halo is produced by 343 Industries, one of Microsoft's game-development studios. 
  • The game was originally slated to come out with the launch of the Xbox Series X console, which will become available in November, Microsoft said on Tuesday. Now the video game will become available sometime in 2021.
Visitors play video games at the Xbox stand during 2020 China International Cartoon and Game Expo (CCG Expo) at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center on July 16, 2020 in Shanghai, China.
Zhou You | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Microsoft said Tuesday that its new Xbox Series X will launch in November and that one of the flagship games for it, the first-person shooter title "Halo Infinite," will be delayed until sometime in 2021.

The announcement could affect the timing of demand for Microsoft's next-generation hardware, as well as revenue from gaming content. It's one area where Microsoft continues to court consumers, alongside Windows, advertising and PCs. Microsoft's Xbox Series X will compete directly with the Sony PlayStation 5, which is expected to launch around the same time.

Gaming represented 8% of total revenue in Microsoft's 2020 fiscal year, which ended on June 30. It was up just 1.7% from the prior year as people awaited a successor to the Xbox One from 2013.

With the new Series X, Microsoft is also promoting its new Xbox Game Pass subscription, which will allow people to stream Xbox games to their Android phones and other devices directly from the cloud. Gamers won't necessarily even need to own the new console to play some of the games that will be available for it — though that will offer the best in-home experience on a big screen TV. Xbox Game Pass costs $14.99 a month and will include access to more than 100 games when it launches on Sept. 15.

Microsoft and Sony have not disclosed the cost of their new consoles.

"We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision," Chris Lee, studio head for the game at 343 Industries, one of Microsoft's game-development studios, said in a statement posted on Twitter. Lee said releasing the game in time for the holiday season was not in the best interest of the team or the title.

The first version of Halo debuted with the original Xbox console in 2001. Microsoft revealed gameplay from "Halo Infinite" alongside other games last month. "Halo Infinite" will become available on Windows 10 and the Xbox One in addition to the Xbox Series X, 343 Industries said in a blog post.

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