Halo developer 343 Industries has effectively put the kibosh on a fan project called “ElDewrito” that sought to revive a canceled Russia-only game called Halo Online.
While many unauthorized projects end in a Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown or Cease and Desist order, 343 Industries reached out to the ElDewrito team ahead of any legal actions to firmly request they halt development.
343 Industries made a public post to its Halo Waypoint website earlier today to clarify the action that was taken and explain its own position, but curiously the developer (and Xbox head Phil Spencer) seem to be hinting that Microsoft could be eyeing a more official Halo PC release in the future, and that it would be open to involving key community modders like the ElDewrito team in that process in some way, shape, or form.
343 Industries does allow a fair amount of modding and custom content when it comes to games in the Halo franchise, but it notes that the ElDewrito revival was reliant on Microsoft-owned assets that were never legally released or authorized for use outside of Russia and thus it fell outside of the 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,” clarifies 343 in a post to Halo Waypoint. “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.”
The ElDewrito team themselves note that it isn’t the open-source mod itself that is the issue but rather that Microsoft is seeking to remove wayward Halo Online code and packages from online distribution that found their way online despite the company’s efforts following earlier Halo Online leaks. So while the fan team is still able to distribute their mod despite halting development, many of the Halo Online assets that it relied on are to be taken down at Microsoft’s request.
“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,” the Halo Waypoint post explains. “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. “