343 Industries releases Halo 4 DLC for free, claims it’s a promo [UPDATE]

Halo 4 -- Crimson Map Pack -- Harvest

After finishing up my work for Digital Trends on Monday evening, I decided to unwind by playing a few multiplayer matches in 343 Industries’ recently-released blockbuster shooter Halo 4. Noticing that the game’s first DLC map pack had just appeared on the Xbox Live Marketplace, I thought to myself that the $10 price point it featured was a perfectly reasonable amount of cash to spend on three new multiplayer arenas. Thus, I clicked through to the Xbox Live Marketplace option at the bottom of Halo 4’s main menu, pulled up the Crimson Map Pack listing and instructed my Xbox 360 to download the 500MB-plus addition.

That’s when things got a bit strange. My console responded to my command immediately and started pulling down the data that would eventually make up the Crimson Map Pack. That’s pretty typical, but what’s odd here is that the Xbox Live Marketplace never actually deducted the 800 Microsoft Points (read: $10USD) from my Xbox Live account. Realizing that I needed to explore this anomaly further, I started looking into the issue, but the Internet had surprisingly little to tell me about what was going on.

At the time, the best I could find were a handful of comments on this Joystiq article detailing the issues 343 Industries was having in making the DLC available to owners of the Halo 4 Limited Edition bundle (which is supposed to offer players early access to the game’s DLC offerings). The very first comment on that piece echoes my confusing issue. “For some reason when I clicked Xbox Live Marketplace on the main menu it let me download the Crimson Map Pack for free,” writes Dylan Chatland, seemingly as bewildered by this turn of events as I was.

At this point I realized I was getting nowhere and instead decided to contact Microsoft directly to ask the publisher what exactly was going on. A few hours later we received a reply from Microsoft representatives. “We are aware of the situation. I’m working on getting more details,” they told us.

Roughly 12 hours after our initial email we received a substantial response from Microsoft. It reads as follows:

As an additional reward to those customers that participated in our “14 Day, Buy and Play” program (which ran from Nov. 6 – Nov. 20), we are providing complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack for a limited time, through Tuesday, December 18 at 9am UTC/GMT.

You’ll notice that this is the first we’ve heard of this promotional effort. Assuming Microsoft or 343 Industries had planned a stealthy release of the Crimson Map Pack specifically for a select group of players, wouldn’t one of the companies have mentioned all of this prior to its debut? The only other alternative we can imagine is that somebody at either of the aforementioned firms made a glaring mistake and in an effort to minimize public damage the companies have decided to simply leave well enough alone. Those who picked up the Crimson Map Pack for free will get to keep their DLC, at least for a limited time.

So does this mean that come December 18 those free Map Packs will no longer function? We asked Microsoft, and have yet to hear back. Further, we also asked the company if this newly-revealed scheme was an effort to cover up an internal error. We’ve yet to receive a response to that inquiry as well. If Microsoft offers us a reply we’ll be sure to bring it to you, but for now we should probably assume that the gratis Crimson Map Pack is a time sensitive offer.

With that in mind, is anyone up for a bit of Infinity Slayer on Harvest? We may not have access to the map for long, so we may as well make good use of it, huh?

Update: Microsoft just sent over a reply to our final questions. It seems that those who acquired the Crimson Map Pack for free will find it non-functional once December 18 rolls around (unless, of course, they pony up $10 to buy the thing). Those who picked it up legitimately will not be impacted.

As to why neither Microsoft nor 343 Industries outlined this promotional plan prior to our discovery, it seems that there were internal “complications” with rolling out the program. “In terms of your second question about why this wasn’t announced in advance, there were some initial complications with the distribution of the ’14 day, Buy and Play’ reward tokens, and so we decided to provide the additional reward of complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack, for a limited time, as a ‘thank you’ to our customers that contributed to the success of the Halo 4 launch,” Microsoft told us.


The history of Battle Royale: From mod to worldwide phenomenon

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in streaming and eSports in a way that might hint at the future of the industry.

The best free-to-play games you can play right now

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?

‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ is free to try on Xbox One right now

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is currently available to try for free on Xbox One. The game typically costs $30 on the platform, and is also available on PC. A mobile version is available as a separate release.
Product Review

Anybody seen my grenades? ‘Battlefield V’ shows up late and unprepared

Battlefield V’s War Stories give us a new perspective on World War II, but the game’s lack of polish across both its campaign and multiplayer modes are almost impossible to ignore.

The best cheap-but-awesome PS4 game deals under $20

The PlayStation 4 has hit its stride in recent years and is now more affordable than ever. If you have a PS4 or are thinking of buying one, we’ve collected some must-have games. The best part? Each of these is just $20 or less.

‘Final Fantasy XV’ mod remembers the RPG’s canceled DLC and features

A Final Fantasy XV mod pays homage to the content canceled by Square Enix. Episodes Aranea, Luna, and Noctis will no longer happen, while the promised level-building tool and Mod Organizer improvements for the PC version were also shelved.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

Owners of ROM sites ordered to pay Nintendo more than $12 million

An federal court judge in Arizona has awarded Nintendo more than $12 million in damages in its lawsuit with the owners of two popular ROM websites. The sites must also be transferred to Nintendo's control.

Feeling nostalgic? Here are the 25 best Sega Genesis games

Although the company has since fallen into obscurity, Sega was an indisputable titan throughout the '90s. That said, here are 25 best Sega Genesis games that helped define its fabled decade.

‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ parachutes onto PlayStation 4 on December 7

Following months of speculation, PUBG Corp. has announced that PUBG is coming to PS4 on December 7. The PS4 version includes all three maps and major features, and you can get some PlayStation-themed apparel items by pre-ordering.

Struggling to survive 'Battlefield 5?' Our boot camp will keep you in the fight

Battlefield V's multiplayer component can be overwhelming, but you can succeed against the enemy with a little help. These are the tips and tricks you need to know to win in Battlefield V.

What games were nominated for the The Game Awards 2018? Find out here

The Game Awards returns to Los Angeles for its fifth show this December. Here is everything we know about the event, including its location, where you can watch it, and games that were nominated.

How to Install an SSD in a PlayStation 4 or PS4 Pro

SSDs are much faster than mechanical hard drives, which is what the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro come with. Here, we show you how to replace it with an SSD, which will allow you to boot to the OS faster and load games quicker.