The creators of a popular Halo Online mod known as ElDewrito were forced to halt development of the project after being contacted by Microsoft and Halo developer 343 Industries over possible violations of Microsoft’s intellectual property.
ElDewrito is built off of a free-to-play PC title based on Halo 3 that was being developed for Russian markets, but was abandoned after a 2015 beta. Despite development on the project ending, 343 did not release the game’s assets for open use. “With Halo Online, there’s a common misconception that once it was canceled, the assets were either turned over as ‘open source’ or left to the community’s whims as ‘abandonware’—neither of which is actually true,” said the studio in a blog post, adding, “Many elements of that underlying code and content are still actively being used today and will continue to be in the future.”
While Microsoft does allow for some fan creations within the game, the company felt required to intervene in the case of ElDewrito in order to protect its own legal rights regarding the use of the game’s code. “Microsoft, like any company, has a responsibility to protect its IP, code and trademarks. It’s not optional in their words,” said 343. The crackdown has led to multiple DMCA takedowns being issued to Twitch users who streamed the game, resulting in 24-hour bans for the affected accounts.
According to one ElDewrito developer, RabidSquabbit, the mod will remain playable in its current state, but “any Microsoft assets required to play the game will likely be taken down by Microsoft.”
Despite the bad news, one key positive has emerged from the whole debacle: 343 Industries now realizes the demand for Halo on PC and could be open to working together with the ElDewrito team to meet it. “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,” said 343.
343’s statement was later seconded by Xbox head Phil Spencer.
ElDewrito might be all but dead now, but its resurrection is still a possibility somewhere down the line.