Halo Online was meant to be a Halo 3-derived free-to-play online shooter, but it didn't get past closed beta testing in Russia. The ElDewrito mod opened it up to players around the world, and then kept the game alive after it was officially canned in 2016.
The latest version at the time of writing started to hit concurrent player numbers of over 10,000. With Twitch streamers starting to pick up and play Halo Online the game really got onto a roll until today where Microsoft announced via Halo Waypoint that they've stepped in to block further development by the ElDewrito team.
It is unclear if the team need to disable the master servers or not as the game is still up at the time of writing.
You can read the full statement below:
Today we want to let our community know that Microsoft has initiated actions to protect its Halo intellectual property in the wake of the recent “ElDewrito” PC release. Community created content has long been a key pillar in the Halo franchise and something we have continuously sought to support – from the early beginnings of Red vs. Blue to Forge-made maps & modes to the “Halo Custom Edition” to original recent fan creations like “Installation 01.” These projects, and others like them, have one key factor in common – they fit within Microsoft’s established content usage guidelines.
Back in 2014, Microsoft, 343 and Sabre Interactive partnered to develop “Halo Online” – a title that was being developed exclusively for the Russian market. The game was subsequently put on indefinite hold but Halo Online ended up in the wild beyond its intended audience and official scope, resulting in DMCA takedown notices being issued by Microsoft. As time went by, Halo Online faded and fell off the radar until the recent exposure of the .6 update shined a new light on the current ElDewrito project. While we are humbled and inspired to see the amount of passion poured into this project, the fact remains that it’s built upon Microsoft-owned assets that were never lawfully released or authorized for this purpose. As this project reverberated across the community, our team took a step back to assess the materials and explore possible avenues, while Microsoft, like any company, has a responsibility to protect its IP, code and trademarks. It’s not optional in other words.
We’d like to clear up a few areas of confusion we’ve seen across the community over the past few days regarding ElDewrito and other fan-made projects. In the case of the original Halo Custom Edition, that was as a specific add-on to Halo PC to officially empower the mod and content creation community to essentially go nuts with Halo: Combat Evolved (it even required a valid Halo PC retail key). More recently, Installation 01 has garnered some buzz and even made headlines for receiving a thumbs-up from 343. Installation 01 is an original work, built from the ground up in a separate engine, that abides by Microsoft’s content usage guidelines. With Halo Online, there’s a common misconception that once it was canceled, the assets were either turned over as “open source” or left for the community’s whims as “abandonware” – neither of which is actually true. Not only did Microsoft issue takedown notices at the time of the original leaks, but many elements of that underlying code and content are still actively being used today and will continue to be in the future.
As Microsoft’s need to protect its IP spun up, we reached out to members of the ElDewrito team to have an open discussion about the project and the admittedly difficult situation we all find ourselves in. The ElDewrito team is understandably upset at this outcome given the time they’ve each invested in this project, but they understand the legal implications and the need to press pause on this work. One thing remains clear – the community really wants more Halo on PC. As we look ahead, we’re very excited about the prospects of an official classic Halo experience making its way to PC and we hope to be able to partner with the ElDewrito team and broader mod and content creation community to help inform the types of experiences and features our fans desire. While we have nothing to announce today, please know that the PC community is very important to us and top of mind as we work towards the future.
We’d like to extend our thanks to the community at large for constantly pouring so much passion into Halo. While it’s unfortunate to find ourselves as the bearers of bad legal news, the outpouring of support and excitement is inspiring and together, in partnership with this community, we believe we can really do great things for the future of Halo.
A Moderator from the Halo Online subreddit said the following:
The links on this subreddit and the official master servers aren't going anywhere for now. If links are taken down, we'll take that as a sign they don't like us distributing the full game and the subreddit will revert to only supporting the Method 2 listed on the download page.
This gives some hope that Halo Online may still keep its master servers online even if development ends at this point.
For now you can still download and play Halo Online:
Frank O'Connor (Franchise Development Director of the Halo franchise at 343 Industries via Resetera
We’re not “shutting down the mod” or going after the Eldewrito crew - we’re enacting action to remove the Halo Online code and packages from places it’s being hosted. The distinction may seem like semantics to a lot of folks, and I don’t blame them for assuming that, but to be clear, this is a legally necessary step to protect code, product, IP, trademarks and copyrights, and is not optional. We’re a publicly traded company, and we have a fiduciary and legal responsibility to our shareholders, and further, if we don’t take steps to protect it, then we actually run the legal risk of losing it - and there’s code and content in there that is still very much in use.
As a company, we spend a lot of time, effort and resources to support, amplify and enable our community creators - we have a simple set of rules that are generous and fair, that as long as they are abided by, we’re happy to help with and in some cases, promote.
Halo Online code and content is not within those rules.
I hope nobody on this site thinks anyone is happy about this - at one end of the spectrum, it’s sad to see folks’ hard work and effort be sunsetted, and on the other, all the people who do this stuff are human. Nobody takes joy in this kind of work or responsibility. It’s simply a necessary part of being a publicly traded company in the US.
Statement from the ElDewrito Team
ElDewrito’s 0.6 update has been everything we could have hoped for and so much more. The community response and support we have been given has been exciting, humbling, above all, appreciated. We have poured our hearts and souls into this game, and you have been the best community we could have asked for.
Unfortunately, 343 Industries and Microsoft have noticed it’s success, and have reached out to us regarding potential legal action, and have requested we temporarily halt development.
You can view their article and statement here: https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/news/eldewrito-community-content
Microsoft had this to say about 0.6′s release.
“While we are humbled and inspired to see the amount of passion poured into this project, the fact remains that it’s built upon Microsoft-owned assets that were never lawfully released or authorized for this purpose. As this project reverberated across the community, our team took a step back to assess the materials and explore possible avenues, while Microsoft, like any company, has a responsibility to protect its IP, code and trademarks. It’s not optional in other words. “
“BTW, we’re not “shutting down the mod” or going after the Eldewrito crew - we’re enacting action to remove the Halo Online code and packages from places it’s being hosted.. “
There was no Cease and Desist, no DMCA, just an brief conversation about what they suggest we do.
What does this mean for the future of ElDewrito?
To be completely honest, we do not know the answer to this question yet. Our conversation with 343 was very brief. Since ElDewrito itself is simply an open source mod and not a Microsoft asset, the mod itself will not be taken down. However, it appears that any Microsoft assets required to play the game (MS23 builds, Full 0.6 game zips, ect) will likely be taken down by Microsoft. All we know is that have been told to temporarily halt development until more information is available, and we must honor this request. During this time, please do not make threats or harass 343 Industries.
Can We Still Play 0.6?
Yes, absolutely! Play the hell out of it. Create more incredible forge creations. You can resume playing 0.6 as normal. It is important to note that ElDewrito itself is not being taken down - just any and all of Microsoft’s assets are. In the meantime, enjoy the great game that we have poured our hearts into.
The number of people that have played 0.6 has blown us away. At the time of writing this post, there are over 8000 players playing.
Microsoft has taken down the YouTube Trailer for Halo Online along with all the download links they can (torrent lives on) and had Twitch suspend a number of Streamers who have been streaming the game.
The list of banned steamers so far:
Summit1g and GiantWaffle were also streaming Halo Online but their bans have yet to show up. An interesting note is that both Aplfisher and Allshamnowow Haven't streamed the game since Saturday so these bans seem to be towards anyone who has a live VOD of the game on Twitch.
Halo Online existed without problem for years. Hundreds of others streaming it, but I get the legal action taken against me. I've removed the videos from YouTube as well. First ever suspension in 8+ years of creating content feelsbadman.— Jericho - Tucker (@IIJERiiCHOII) April 25, 2018
hey Jericho - This caught us by surprise this AM and we're currently working with MSFT and Twitch to understand options. We get the desire to prevent Halo Online streaming as part of their IP enforcement but we don't want to see people getting banned, esp with no warning.— Brian Jarrard (@ske7ch) April 25, 2018
Related Forum: PC Gaming Forum