Phil Spencer offered an additional explanation to gamers as to why Halo 5: Guardians for the Xbox One will be the first shooter game in the series to not allow the option of two-player split-screen co-op in offline or online, play. It basically boils down to Microsoft catering to those who play on Xbox Live.
Gamespot did an interview with the Xbox brand boss, Phil Spencer, and the topic of Halo 5's split-screen spilled over into the discussion. According to Spencer the reason the newest game in the series from 343 Industries doesn't have split-screen is because fewer older people actually make use of split-screen gameplay and when they do play games like Halo 5, it's usually via Xbox Live. Spencer told the gaming outlet...
In the end, the teams make decisions based on the bar that they want to hit for complexity of what they're going to run on a single box, […]
Previously 343 Industries' executive producer Josh Holmes had mentioned that since they wanted to up the graphics as high as possible while also including a high-end AI system, they would have to sacrifice split-screen options for Halo 5 in the process.
Spencer went on to further justify the removal of the split-screen option in the game by stating...
I love the nostalgia of the couch co-op of what Halo did in the past, but I also know in the realities of the day with people's busy lives, it's not as easy to get everybody in the same physical place. It's one of the advantages that Xbox Live obviously offers.
Holmes' explanation makes sense, to a degree. Spencer's explanation does not.
While there are obviously more people than ever playing online, and while yes some people are too busy to gather the family or friends around to play couch co-op, what about the people who do still enjoy that experience?
Also keep in mind that a lot of kids and teens grow up playing couch co-op, it's not like kids stopped being a thing. This new generation will simply grow up without that co-op experience. I mean, can we really attribute the success of a game like Goldeneye 007 to its sparkling graphics? And was it really only the single-player campaign of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 that drew the masses in? It feels like it's completely leaving a huge segment of the market out of the equation to focus solely on the online market.
It's a risky move because the Halo series, along with Gears of War, was one of the rare shooter games that allowed for split-screen co-op. More and more games have abandoned split-screen play to force people to sign up with the online services, and I can't imagine anyone tight on cash willing to fork over more money in the form of an extra console, a second online account and a second copy of the game just for some FPS entertainment.
Funnily enough Gamespot closed out the article with a poll asking gamers if the removal of split-screen from Halo 5 is a big problem, and 3% said they don't play Halo, 28% said it isn't a problem and a massive 70% said that yes, the removal of the feature is a problem.
Halo 5: Guardians is due to launch exclusively for the Xbox One on October 27th.