Dear 343 Industries,
In the last few weeks you’ve experimented with how to handle the eventual online population drop of that befalls many games over half a year into their life. To your credit, this is something even Bungie struggled with in Halo Reach. While you worked with combining playlists (often the best course), you seem to have hit a snag with how to handle purchase disparity with you DLC. I understand this is a hard item; DLC playlists validate purchases but map size difference prevents all DLC from appearing in one hopper, and non-DLC required playlists present DLC only so often compared to launch maps. The fighting game genre also has DLC post-launch, but without such issues splintering the community or making hard decisions, they do this via Compatibility Packs which essentially puts the DLC on disc to people can play each other regardless of who purchased DLC.
I think you know where I’m getting at.
I think what you guys should really consider, for Halo 5 or even as early as Halo 4 (as an experiment), is Compatibility Map Downloads; a system where everybody can play together regardless of who purchases DLC. And not only do I think this will keep players unified, it may sell a few more DLC even.
How the system would work is when DLC packs launch, and let’s call this hypothetical the “UNSC Map Pack”, it would be a required download for all players who wish to play online matchmaking. Once the mandatory Compatibility Map Download is finished, players can go online and all DLC maps would appear in the playlists that feature them. They would appear as voting options same as always. As for players who did not actually purchase the maps, certain restrictions are applied: They can not Forge the DLC maps, or host them in any way (offline and online custom games). If they so please, they can view past matches in Theater mode just the same. Basically, they can’t manipulate the maps as owners would, and their only experience would be 343 official playlists.
If this sounds familiar; yes, this does resemble Free to Play design – but let’s be honest, this may be a great motivator for selling DLC. When people see how maps play they can make more informed decisions about purchase, particularly if you introduce piecemeal offers where they can buy each map separately if they want. After all, ‘Map Packs’ are something like old music albums, sometimes people just want that one or two songs, and modern music sales accommodate this by offering them piecemeal, 343 can lead the charge in this market by doing the same. Compatibility Map Packs and single sale maps, and playlists that keep everybody together could solve a great many things at once.
Well, I think so.
Love Halo 4, even though I’m addicted to GTA Online right now. I hope you consider this letter/proposal from a fan of the series, and I can’t wait to see Halo’s debut on Xbox One. I’ll be there.
With love and respect for the series,