Microsoft announces launch window for Xbox Series X, delays Halo: Infinite into 2021

Delaying the console's flagship title into next year raises questions about the launch strength of the Series X.

Microsoft and Sony are set to have another Herculean battle during the holiday season of 2020. Both companies will be releasing their new consoles into the wild, hoping to woo gamers with the latest and greatest in gameplay, graphics, and more. There's no doubt the two companies will give it everything they've got, but Microsoft may end up having a rougher time attracting an audience out of the gate thanks to the delay of Halo: Infinite.

Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox Series X is going to release worldwide sometime in November of 2020. A specific date was not announced, nor were details on pricing. Still, getting the launch month out there is an important part of building hype. Many were worried that Microsoft might end up delaying the hardware due to issues stemming from the pandemic, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Now we're all waiting to see just when in November the Xbox Series X will launch. Having it out in time for Black Friday would be absolutely key, and there's no doubt Microsoft knows that.

While a new console is exciting, the truth is that hardware is only as good as the software on it. While Microsoft has announced countless titles in development for the platform, Halo Infinite is the game everyone is looking at. The biggest brand under Microsoft's belt, Halo: Infinite would definitely convince some consumers to jump in on Microsoft's vision for the next generation. The original plan was to have Halo: Infinite out at launch alongside the Xbox Series X, but in quite the devastating announcement, Microsoft and developer 343 Studios have confirmed that Halo Infinite is now pushed to an unspecified date in 2021.

“We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision,” said Chris Lee, studio head at 343 for Halo: Infinite. “The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.”

The delay of Halo: Infinite leaves Microsoft with a gaping hole in their Xbox Series X launch plans. There's really no other titles under Microsoft's umbrella that can stand toe-to-toe with Halo, or have any chance of moving the same amount of units. Without Halo Infinite, the Xbox Series X may face quite a struggle going up against the PlayStation 5.

There are a few saving graces for the Xbox Series X though. First off, we don't know the price of either system. If Microsoft comes in way under what the PlayStation 5 gets priced at, consumers might be more willing to head in Microsoft's direction. Second, we have no clue when the PlayStation 5 is releasing. Other than a vague 2020 mention, Sony is yet to confirm anything like a month or specific date. If Xbox Series X gets a considerable launch lead on the PS5, that might give it enough time to stave off major issues, and then make up for lost ground when Halo Infinite releases.

There's no doubt Sony is pleased to hear about the delay of Halo: Infinite, but that doesn’t mean things are smooth sailing for the PS5 as it moves towards launch. There's still some pieces of the puzzles that need to fall into place, but things are indeed shaping up for this to be one of the most interesting console battles yet.

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