Update: Shortly after 343 Industries posted its statement about ElDewrito, Xbox boss Phil Spencer tweeted something very interesting about one specific point the studio made.
This point is important "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" https://t.co/KVJbH5PfJIApril 25, 2018
The only official Halo releases on PC we've had since Halo 2 in 2004 (aside from the Spartan twin-stick shooters) have been Halo 5: Forge, which was more of a level editor than a proper game, and the RTS Halo Wars 2. Microsoft all but confirmed a couple of years ago that Halo 6 (or whatever it ends up being called) will be released for Windows 10 as well as Xbox, but we haven't heard anything about it since. Could that be the "classic Halo experience" Spencer is hinting at? Or is Microsoft finally getting around to releasing The Master Chief Collection on PC?
I've reached out to Microsoft for more information, and will update when I have it.
Following the release of its 0.6 update last week, Microsoft has "initiated actions" against ElDewrito, the player-made Halo Online mod. The move is designed to "protect its Halo intellectual property."
As reported by Eurogamer, 343 Industries announced the legal action via Halo Waypoint. Within, 343 states Microsoft's intentions but also mentions an "open discussion" between the publisher and the current ElDewrito team. "The ElDewrito team is understandably upset at this outcome given the time they’ve each invested in this project," reads the post to this end, "but they understand the legal implications and the need to press pause on this work."
Halo Online was meant to be a Halo 3-spun free-to-play shooter but, after being officially spiked in 2016, the ElDewrito mod stepped in with multiple server browsers, player customisation, stat tracking and ranked social servers, among other neat online features.
"Back in 2014, Microsoft, 343 and Sabre Interactive partnered to develop 'Halo Online'—a title that was being developed exclusively for the Russian market," says 343. "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."
The post continues: "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 cancelled, 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."
343 then talks of the aforementioned discussions with the ElDewrito team, stressing it is "understandably upset at this outcome given the time they’ve each invested in this project", despite appreciating the legal implications the project entails.
The post concludes: "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."
At the time of writing, the ElDewrito website is still live—should you wish to poke around what might have been.