There was a flash of unhappiness earlier this week when Gamespot noticed a job listing (opens in new tab) for an "online experience design director" at Halo studio 343 Industries. According to the description, the successful applicant will "oversee and provide vision for multiple facets of design and its implementation" in the upcoming Halo Infinite, the listing states, including player progression, social and engagement features, and—uh oh—microtransactions.
We don't know much about Halo Infinite at this point, except that it's been confirmed for PC and 343 isn't (publicly, at least) interested in a battle royale mode. But the mention of microtransactions didn't go over especially well with a number of Halo fans, who expressed unhappiness (such as in this Reddit thread) about the game's "pay to win" prospects, the return of a REQ unlock system, and/or the "anti-consumer" nature of microtransactions in general.
Neither Microsoft nor 343 have said specifically how Halo Infinite microtransactions will work, but studio head Chris Lee took to Twitter today to say that, regardless of whatever else happens, loot boxes are not part of the formula.
Keep the faith, it's appreciated! We’re still working through final plans and will share more when we are ready, but I can definitely say that Halo Infinite will not include real-money loot boxes.September 19, 2018
That's good, but it's also a matter of practicality: Loot boxes have come under fire from multiple regulatory bodies in Europe, forcing regional restrictions on games including Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, CS:GO, and Forza, and more action may be coming—including in the US. Implementing conventional loot boxes in a new game at this point would be both risky and potentially self-destructive.
Some gamers are skeptical of microtransactions in any format, but games like Overwatch have demonstrated that it is possible to do them well, or at least in a way that won't stoke permanent fury. 343 will no doubt have more to say about Halo Infinite's business model at some point in the future, but it might not be for awhile: A release date hasn't been set, but we don't expect it to show up until late in 2019.