Update, April 25: Microsoft’s action against the ElDewrito mod has extended to Twitch streamers.
Earlier today, Microsoft took against the ElDewrito mod which aimed to restore the abandoned, Russia-only Halo Online to get Halo multiplayer up and running on PC. Now streamers are also feeling the effects of the crackdown, with a number of DMCA takedowns being issued against Twitch streamers.
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Today, streamers Aplfisher and AllShamNoWow both tweeted that they’d received 24 hour suspensions from Twitch after DMCA violations were reported by Microsoft. A number of other people who had streamed ElDewrito (collected on Reddit) are also temporarily banned, though notably these suspensions haven’t affected larger streamers like Summit1G and GiantWaffle.
Everyone’s had archived videos of ElDewrito play taken down, however. While most regular streamers have abandoned public play of the mod, there are still dozens of active Halo Online streams on Twitch, though as of right now none of them have much more than 100 viewers.
For their part, 343 Industries community manager Brian Jarrard has reached out to some of the affected streamers to say they were also caught by surprise, and that the studio is reaching out to Twitch and publishers Microsoft for more clarity. “We get the desire to prevent Halo Online streaming as part of their IP enforcement but we don't want to see people getting banned, esp with no warning.”
Though even the ElDewrito team has mentioned that Microsoft are “just protecting their IP,” players are unsurprisingly frustrated by the situation, especially the inconsistent punishments that have been handed down through Twitch.
As for the other side of the concern - what this means for Halo on PC - Xbox chief Phil Spencer has been proactively responding to emails from fans, and tweeted to reiterate a statement from the earlier announcement that the developers are “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.”
Original story, April 25: ElDewrito is a community-created mod for Halo Online, a cancelled free-to-play PC version of Halo’s multiplayer for Russian markets. The mod’s only goal is to allow people to continue playing the game, and thus, it’s one of the only ways to play Halo multiplayer on PC. Now Microsoft are moving to block it, citing protection of their intellectual property.
The mod recently hit version 0.6, which not only revives Halo Online but allows player-hosted servers, character customisation, bug fixing and even mod support. Unfortunately as it is ultimately based on Halo 3 multiplayer code Microsoft has moved to block the release of the mod, which they detailed in a post to Halo Waypoint.
“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 ElDewrito team have responded on their own blog and said that Microsoft have not threatened any legal action as of yet. The team say that the mod will continue to be available, but the Microsoft assets used will be taken down. Players who have already downloaded ElDewrito and Halo Online can continue to play it. However under the question about the future of the mod, the team states “we do not know the answer to this question yet”.
In the wake of this, Microsoft also promise to do more to bring Halo on PC, perhaps even with the support of the ElDewrito team. They say, “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.” They have made promises like this before, so hopefully Halo will return to PC - officially this time.