Sometimes you need to get something off your chest knowing that it probably won’t change
a thing. This is one of those times. I’m talking to you 343 Industries.
After reporting my 20th player of the day, I started thinking to myself about the current state of Halo Infinite. For the first time since its release, I opened my eyes wide enough to see Halo clearly. My conclusion, 343 values cheaters more than any other customer type when it comes to Halo Infinite.
It’s a wild claim, I know. So I will do my best to explain my reasoning. I am sure this post will have some
logical fallacies I would need to explain or retract, but I am okay with that. So let me get to why I feel this way.
Understanding the Customers of 343 Industries
Let’s start by identifying common customer types currently playing Halo. Obviously, the customer types
below aren’t the only ones playing and I understand that people will fall into multiple categories. This will help establish a common ground for my discussion.
- The Campaigners – The people who mainly enjoy PvE aspects of the game. These include things like Co-Op campaign and Firefights.
- The Creators – The people who enjoy the creative aspects of Halo. Examples include creating new game types and maps
- The Rank Climbers – The people who enjoy the competitive side of Halo, but are not necessarily pro players.
- The Casual Multiplayer – The people who enjoy multiplayer, but don’t like rank. They like the social game modes like Big Team Battle, SWAT, All Snipers, Zombies, and the likes.
- The Jack of All Trades – The people who play any game mode anytime. They just want to have fun above all else.
- The High Profile Gamers– These are pros/high profiled streamers.
- The Buyers – The people who will frequently buy microtransactions.
- Cheaters – People who want the recognition of being good without putting in the work to be good. So they cheat, but also try to hide it. Don’t confuse these people with original cheaters.
- OG Cheaters– People who just want to watch the world burn. There isn’t anything you can really do about this group. They don’t even hide the fact they are cheating. They will do it without regard for consequences. These are the best kind of cheaters in my opinion. They have my respect. They know what they want and they go out and do it. We will not be talking about them in the next section
Halo Infinite Multiplayer Reveal Trailer
When I talk about cheaters going forward, I am referring to all cheaters including those on your own team. For some reason, people tend to forget that their own teammates can be cheaters. I have personally benefited from having cheaters on my team. It’s hilarious watching a person on your team cheat in theater mode, because you know they queued up by themselves and no one is making call outs, yet they know where all the enemies are on the map.
Now that we established common ground, I will do my best to explain why I believe cheaters are valued more than any other group. I will provide my perception and reasons on how I believe 343 views each customer type.
The Value of Each Customer Type
- The Campaigners – 343 released a game without co-op, no firefights, and no other way for a player to enjoy PvE outside of playing campaign. The only thing these players got from the developers was a vague promise that campaign DLC will be coming and co-op will launch six months after the game released. This reminds me of why Amazon’s New World failed. By the time this content releases, the magic that comes from playing a campaign through for the first time with friends will be dead and unrewarding. Campaigners would have probably LASO, a fan-created difficulty, through the game four to five times already and possibly be attempting speedruns. Value as a customer 4/10
- The Creators – I’m sorry, but create what? When? How? The creativity aspect of the franchise is currently nonexistent. The days of randomly finding oddly fun and stress free game modes are gone. At last reported, the best estimated release date for Forge is season 3 or August 2022. This is based on the best information I could find. If we were to follow the current business model, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to buy Forge Cosmetic Packs to unlock advanced shapes or structures. If this happens and you don’t want to pay, players will have to enjoy being creative with squares and triangles. Value as a customer 3/10
- The Rank Climbers – The title of the article pretty much gives this one away. The report system and lax approach to cheating negatively impacts rank climbers the most. It ruins their games. However, you can also see the lack of value in the limited options of rank playlist. There is literally only one. 343 should at least have a ranked Rumble Pit playlist by now. Instead, it forces every person into the same playlist. This leads to people AFK/Leaving, throwing the game, or just basically not trying to win when they are forced to play Capture-the-Flag on Behemoth for the third game in a row. It creates unnecessary tension between players who just want to play Slayer and players who want to play objectives. This leads to an awful gaming experience. So if you get lucky enough to not have a cheater in your game, you will probably have a griever. Value as a customer 5/10
- The Casual MP – Man, I used to envy this group back in the day. I felt like they had it all and genuinely enjoyed it all. The level of pure enjoyment the Casual MP type used to get from Halo is unmatched in any game. The amount of playlist and game modes they had to choose from seemed endless. Obviously, they aren’t valued as highly anymore. They only have a shell of what used to be offered. BTB barely works. 343 finally brings over the cult classic Swat, but that mode can be a little too hard for some casuals. In order to balance out the selection, 343 makes Fiesta permanent, which was one of the least popular game modes in Halo for as long as I can remember. It locked Rumble to single player, so casual players can’t enjoy playing rumble pit with friends. No zombies, racing, nor BTB on small maps? This all means no selection. Value as a customer 5/10
- The Jack of All Trades – This is pretty self-explanatory. Essentially, 343 doesn’t value any of your trades so it doesn’t value you. Currently, I would say this group is the least valued customer because they have no identity. Thus, meaning they have no voice to hurt 343’s brand. Value as customer 1/10
- The High Profile Gamers – You may be wondering, how can cheaters be valued higher than these people?!? It’s simple, it’s a one-way street. They are valued for what they can bring to the 343 and Halo brand. However, 343 doesn’t value the high profile gamers’ brand. If it did, it would also value the people who are important to high profile gamers, which are the other types of customers above. When 343 lose its other customer types, high profile gamers will also lose revenue and will be forced to move on to a different game. However, 343 does understand the importance of this group for its brand recognition so it tries to keep the high profile gamers happy. That is the reason for the following score. Value as customer 7/10
- The Buyers – You buy things, 343 likes you. However, the quality of cosmetics vs price is atrocious. It feels like 343 is looking for that sweet spot between the two where it can still overcharge for it and you know it, but feel it’s not worth complaining about. Personally, I don’t see any difference between Legendary, Epic, or common cosmics. Maybe there is one, but it’s so small I don’t notice it. When I purchased my first “legendary” cosmic, it felt more like I purchased the idea that it was legendary and had a yellow highlight instead of an item that was unique compared to the rest. Also, the bundling system to encourage the player to spend $20 in one shot is awful. These bundles include: one decent cosmetic, two “it could be worst” cosmetics, and the rest is just garbage. In other games using similar pricing structures, $20 can get you a whole lot more. Buying $20 cosmetics in this game feels unrewarding. However, this type spends money so 343 will slowly listen. Value as a customer: 6/10
- The Cheaters – 343 designed this game for cheaters to thrive in. The plan to handle cheaters before the game’s release was pretty much lip service. The anti-cheat is unsuccessful and feels like it only detects cheats directly altering the application. It appears to have no ability to detect other ways of cheating. Furthermore, the lack of transparency is frightening. When you give people the ability to operate in the dark, it empowers them. After all of this, I still wanted to give 343 the benefit of doubt. I created excuses for them. I kept telling myself “maybe it overlooked it by accident” or “no one would plan for this”. Going back to the start of the article, it dawned on me after my 20th report. I finally noticed the smoking gun right in front of me all along. The report system is designed for cheaters to not be reported! Think about it for a second. Who would design a report system like the one being used by 343 and hope to collect accurate data on the state of their game? The answer, no one. The system was never intended to be an effective way to report a player. Every step of the reporting process feels designed to discourage someone from completing a single report. Instead of being simple, there are so many things wrong with this system due to the time commitment required. I have never reported a teammate for cheating despite knowing that they cheated because of this. The lengthy process leaves me with no motivation to do so. Value as customer 10/10
Fix the Reporting System, Fix the Problem
There are a number of reasons why I feel the report system is flawed in such a manner. Though I won’t go through all of the reasons, here are a few examples of what I mean. To start, let’s look at the media file size allowed in reporting.
The 49 MB size limit is ridiculously small. This means someone must know how to reformat videos in order to report because all Xbox clips are over this size. Keep in mind, we are talking about an Xbox owned company. So 343 should know the problems around this size limit. The clips must be short so it may be hard for reporters to show the severity of the cheating unless you are willing to spend the time reformatting and editing multiple clips. Also, you can’t report in game. This adds a barrier to report as it forces people to research ways to do so. It also requires players to spend time reviewing games and clipping the perfect example, which again is almost impossible in 29 second clips.
As previously mentioned, the overall time it takes to report one player can exceed the time it takes to play a single game. If you wanted to report every instance of cheating you see, you might spend your whole day reporting instead of playing the game! For those that think, well don’t worry about the clip, just report them. 343 gives a disclaimer saying it will not look at any report unless you have media attached to it. To access the report player ticket section, it feels like you have to unlock a hidden area of the website. This makes those with little motivation to report even more likely to stop right here.
In my opinion, this was no mistake. This was no overlook. The lack of action to correct or offer reasonable or temporary fixes shows the real intent. How do you publicly recognize that cheating is out of control yet still require your player base to jump through hoops to report?
343’s words are shaping up to be a hollow wisp in the wind. Its actions are slowly revealing its soul. The entire structure of Halo’s anti-cheat protocols creates the perfect environment for cheaters to thrive without great risk. I believe the only time 343 hastily punishes a cheater is if the cheater is publicly exposed by a high profile gamer. The motivation behind acting this quickly is because 343 wants to protect its brand and ignoring publicly exposed cheaters ruins games. This is because 343 most valued customers are the Microsoft Shareholders.
First Impressions Matter
I don’t know if there are some statistics out there that can justify this business decision. Do cheaters spend more money than all other types of customers? I can’t understand why 343 would take this approach or the benefits of it. The only thing I believe for certain is that Microsoft and 343 spent millions of dollars on market research in order to gather and process viable information that contributed to the decision-making process for the game. The most important factor to their most valued customer is the Return on Investment, or ROI. So, I am sure they have some spreadsheet that justified their actions to please shareholders so they can keep the lights on and none of this was a mistake.
To sum it up, 343 actions show that it values cheaters more than you. I will never go back to believing the current state of the game was a mistake. The game is performing as intended and incorrectly analyzing the market research and the response of their customer base is the only mistake 343 made.