The success of Halo 5: Guardians rests on its multiplayer as much as it does the single player and co-op campaign that features Master Chief’s Blue team and Spartan Locke’s Fireteam Osiris. The multiplayer in Halo 4 suffered from many downsides and we’ve seen some of how 343 Industries is addressing those in the beta this past December. They’ve found another way that is sure to make Xbox One owners perk up their ears though by making all the DLC free.
According to the July issue of Game Informer released today, Halo 5: Guardians will launch with 20 maps and throw in an additional 15 as DLC. The kicker though is that all of the DLC maps will be free.
“As we started on the multiplayer experience for Halo 5, we talked a lot about the problem of dividing the player base,” Studio Head Josh Holmes told Game Informer. “When you have paid map packs and content, you divide the player base into two groups: the haves and have-not. The people that have the map pack can play together but the people who don’t cannot. That to us is a real problem. So we’re delivering all the maps to all players free so everybody will be able to play together. That, we feel, is really important to having a great multiplayer ecosystem.”
This is potentially great news for those still on the fence about whether to pick up Halo 5: Guardians when it releases to the Xbox One on Oct. 27. 343 Industries unfortunately earned some negative reputation points following the broken release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection last November. Yes, the studio apologized and released the Halo 3: ODST campaign and a new map for free, but a common refrain in community forums and on social media is “I’m not buying Halo 5 at launch until I know it works.”
This move also reflects on a changing model when it comes to multiplayer games. Map packs were popularized by the likes of the Call of Duty franchise and Halo, but the splitting of the player base is still an issue. Season Passes were an attempt in part to minimize the split, yet the issue remains.
Games like Evolve and Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare have shown over the past two years that maps and game modes can be released as free DLC. While the former struggled with a negative perception of character and monster pricing to keep the maps free, the latter took a lighter micro-transaction approach to support its free offerings.
The question now is whether 343 Industries will have some sort of revenue model to support the free DLC in Halo 5: Guardians. If it does have one, what will players be spending money on? I’m not sure if it will be answered at E3 next week, but it is something to keep an eye on in the coming months.
[Images via Halo Waypoint]