Halo Infinite: 343’s statement takes issue with deep layoffs at Halo’s development team

Halo Infinite: 343’s statement takes issue with deep layoffs at Halo’s development team

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Halo developer 343 Industries says Master Chief and Cortana remain under its roof, but reports of deep layoffs in the Halo development team call into question the studio’s ability to sustainably develop future Halo content.

This saga started last week when we learned this the Halo studio was affected from Microsoft plans to cut 10,000 jobs. Since the news broke, speculation has been rife about Microsoft’s plans for its flagship franchise, including rumours that Microsoft may transfer development of Halo to another studio entirely, leaving 343 Industries in more of a producer role. Those rumors prompted 343 Industries to come out over the weekend to put the rumors to rest.

343 Industries studio head Pierre Hinze shared a message on the official Halo Twitter accountwriting, “Halo and Master Chief are here to stay. 343 Industries will continue to develop Halo now and into the future, including epic stories, multiplayer and more of what makes Halo great.”

But for a studio struggling to meet Halo Infinite release dates many times, can the recently downsized 343 continue to develop a big-budget, AAA franchise first-person shooter? It’s hard to say.

IGN reached out to Xbox representatives but did not receive a comment prior to publication.

‘I hit hard’

IGN has learned that significant layoffs have been made to 343’s Halo development team. One former 343 employee affected by the layoffs estimated that about a quarter of 343’s staff were affected, though this is not a hard statistic. We’ve also learned that about 30 people have been let go from 343’s art department alone, with former employees saying 343 Industries has been “hard-hit with positions affected across all disciplines.”

Meanwhile, at least one high-ranking source familiar with the inner workings of 343, but no longer at the studio, told IGN that it was down to a publishing team. However, based on conversations IGN has had with informed sources, the situation at 343 appears to be ongoing, and there’s a growing—albeit unconfirmed—belief that 343 will no longer be Halo’s sole developer when it’s settled.

Browsing LinkedIn profiles of other laid-off employees reveals hits of people working on the engine, presentation, VFX, gameplay, game design, and more important departments of Halo Infinite. It’s clear that 343 is a vastly different studio compared to just seven days ago. In addition, 343 Industries was already dealing with the increasing difficulties of launching a live game service, with a whirlwind of highs and lows in the past year since Halo Infinite’s initial release.

Despite a strong launch in late 2021 that included praise for both Infinites a fresh take on Halo’s campaign and the franchise the first ever free multiplayer, the cracks quickly began to show. The fans instantly backed off Infinite’s controversial multiplayer progression systemlike 343 struggled to repair the store and battle pass.

But the problems did not stop there, with cancel split screen co-op, long delays to Forge Modeand prolonged content droughts during the first seasons of Halo Infinite. Just five months after what appeared to be the start of Halo’s grand comeback, the the community was exhausted.

343 quickly saw a creative exodus after launch, p 343 founder Bonnie Ross, multiplayer creative director Tom Frenchand lead narrative designer Aaron Linde all leave the company in 2022.

Patrick Wren, a former senior multiplayer designer now working on Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, was merciless in his assessment of 343’s leadership in a Twitter post.

“The cut of 343 shouldn’t have happened and Halo Infinite should be in better shape.” Both of these are due to incompetent management during the development of Halo Infinite, causing enormous stress to those working hard to make Halo the best it can be,” Wren wrote.

Along with these departures, 343 is facing another creative void at the top, with the director of Halo Infinite Joseph Staton is leaving 343 to rejoin Xbox Publishing. Staton’s return to Halo was always meant to be temporary arrangementbut his departure still raises concerns among the Halo faithful.

Regardless of what happens with Halo in the future, it’s clear that an initial 10-year plan for Halo Infinite it doesn’t play quite like Microsoft had hoped. For now, Halo Infinite Season 3: Echoes Within is still set to launch in early March, adding new maps, modes and weapons to the game.

Additional reporting by Kat Bailey.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with names in IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

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