End of the road for Halo Wars as Microsoft shuts down community website
Earlier this week Cocopjojo of the Halo Wars community moderation team at 343 Industries announced that they plan to close the Halo Wars community website in its entirety as of December 15th 2010. No doubt this decision is part of Microsoft “exciting plans” for the community.
The announcement reads as follows:
In an effort to provide the Halo Wars community a lively, active, and well-moderated set of forums for discussion, we are soon going to be transitioning the Halo Wars forums to Halo Waypoint’s forums. What this means is that the Halo Wars site will be taken offline and we will ask all of you, if you’d like to continue discussing the game, to do so over at the home for all things Halo, Halo Waypoint.
Reading between the lines a more accurate description of whats happening is that Microsoft want to reduce commitment to the Halo Wars community by closing the entire website down and migrating users to a centralised place where there will be no official category for Halo Wars. Although Microsoft described Waypoint as the “home for all things Halo” Bungie.net will still continue to operate for their Halo titles. Only Ensemble’s Halo Wars community will be closed down making the description of “home for all things Halo” is vastly misleading.
On December 15th all the forum posts and all the site content such as developer blogs and FAQ’s will be removed. I will be creating a back up of as many of the developers blogs as possible over the coming weeks much in the same way Bruce Shelley’s blogs from Ensemble Studios are available here.
Another important point to note is that competitive players who use the HaloWars.com leaderboards and statistics will be very disappointed to hear that when HaloWars.com goes down these statistics will be lost also and wont be coming back. This is undoubtedly part of Microsoft’s efforts to wind down the Halo Wars community by making competitive ranked game play impossible and providing no way for people to view game statistics. Halo Wars was released February 2009 with a meta critic score of 82. The game sold one million units worldwide through March 2009, making it the best-selling console real-time strategy game to date and yet in under 2 years Microsoft is already pulling the plug on the community.
The Halo Wars community has had a rough ride ever since the closure of Ensemble Studios at the hands of Microsoft. Robot Entertainment picked up support for the game shortly after Ensemble closed and produced a number of title updates and DLC. However a year later Microsoft decided yet again to aggravate the Halo Wars community by removing Robot Entertainment from community support and handing operations over to Halo Waypoint. It soon became clear that Halo Waypoint had very little commitment to Halo Wars as the forum became flooded with un-moderated complaints and game bugs with no updates forthcoming. If things couldnt get any worse Microsoft have now taken their anti-Halo Wars community “commitment” to new level by shutting the site down all together.
If there is some good news to come out of all of this, there is going to be a Title Update 5 for Halo Wars, but its not being developed by Robot Entertainment and it is not going to have any balance changes. Instead the long running theatre bug is going to be fixed so that the last two movies will now be playable from the Halo Wars theatre menu. The rest of the changes are to do with the removal of features such as Halo Wars stats tracking and references to HaloWars.com. I think its the first i’ve seen of a title update removing features from the game, but hey, this is Halo Wars.
These are incredibly sad times to be a Halo Wars player. It is interesting to see how Microsoft treats one of its biggest gaming IP’s. Absolutely shocking.
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