Right now, you can still download and play Halo Online mod ElDewrito. The updater is still available on the mod website and player-hosted servers are still online. But you wouldn't know it from the mood among the Halo community, where confusion and anger have been swirling since Halo developer 343 Industries posted a statement that Microsoft was looking into legal action (opens in new tab) to protect its intellectual property. Since that statement landed on Tuesday, things have escalated quickly. Microsoft has begun DMCAing Twitch streams and Youtube videos depicting Halo Online, which apparently even surprised 343.
This caught us off guard. We're working to better understand the intent here and have reached out to MSFT and Twitch directly. The goal seems to be to prevent streaming of Halo Online but we don't want to see people getting banned - please avoid streaming Halo Online content.April 25, 2018
Update: Microsoft responded to our request for comment about streamers being temporarily banned from Twitch with the following: "We’ve reached out to several content creators who may have been impacted while streaming Halo Online as we don’t want to see people getting banned. Streamers should not broadcast Halo Online gameplay because as previously shared (opens in new tab), the code for 'Halo Online' was never lawfully released or authorized for this purpose and would likely violate Twitch’s community guidelines (opens in new tab)."
Look on Twitter, Discord, or Twitch chats, and you'll see fans lamenting that Microsoft is shutting ElDewrito down. Others claim that the Halo Online assets were open sourced after development ended, so the project should be free to continue. And plenty more say Microsoft is simply going after the project because it's become more popular than its own Halo games.
None of the above is true, although Halo Online did have more viewers on Twitch at one point than Halo 5, and has had thousands of players rally to it over the past week. The ElDewrito mod itself is also not the target of Microsoft's legal action—at least not yet.
"There was no Cease and Desist, no DMCA, just a brief conversation about what they suggest we do," states the ElDewrito blog. "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 [we] 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."
That request has fallen on deaf ears in the ElDewrito Discord channel, where attitudes toward Microsoft remain heated and trolling dominates the chat. At time of this article's publication, the server has more than 8000 members.
Twitch streamers receiving 24 hour bans for streaming a game they didn't know was off-limits are likewise upset.
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.April 25, 2018
Twitch has also recommended against streaming Halo online:
Creators FYI: Strongly advise against making videos or streaming gameplay of Halo Online (3rd Party Eldewrito mod).April 25, 2018
But plenty of streams are still up, and fans are eager to share links to where others can still find and download the Halo Online assets Microsoft has taken down. The ElDrewrito 0.6 mod itself is still easily accessible, and has already been host to more than 200,000 games. While it's possible the controversy and fear of legal action will pause ElDewrito's development indefinitely, all the files necessary to play Halo Online are widely distributed. There's likely no stopping it now.