A few years ago, Microsoft and Saber Interactive were working on a game for the Russian market called Halo Online. In August 2016, that game was canceled, but the modding community picked up the pieces to try and salvage something from the work. The resulting game is called ElDewrito and, in the modders’ own words, “attempt[s] to deliver an authentic Halo experience completely free for the PC.”
ElDewrito is essentially the closest thing that players can get to playing online component of Halo 3 on PC, since Bungie and Microsoft never released 3 on that platform. However, 343 Industries released a statement today that sounds rather ominous for the future of the mod:
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.
On the mod’s site, the community says that “Unfortunately, 343 Industries and Microsoft have noticed it’s success, and have reached out to us regarding potential legal action, and have requested we temporarily halt development.” ElDewrito’s community leaders note that they have not received a cease and desist letter or anything similar. They’ve just been made aware that Microsoft is thinking of taking action.
Fan development on games is tricky business, and despite ELDewrito’s attempts to present itself as a mod, this definitely sounds like a case of some fans (skillfully) resuscitating a dead game without permission and being taken to task for it. This is not the first case where an idealistic group of talented fans have a project that’s been struck down and, sadly, it will probably not be the last given just how common the issue is.