Halo developer 343 Industries says Master Chief and Cortana remain under its roof, but reports of deep cuts to Halo’s development staff cast doubt on the studio’s ability to continuously develop future Halo content.
This saga started last week, where we found out that the Halo studio had an impact with Microsoft plans to lay off 10,000 people. Since the news broke, speculation has been rife about Microsoft’s plans for its flagship franchise, including rumors that Microsoft could transfer Halo development to another studio entirely, leaving 343 Industries with a major producer role. These rumors prompted 343 Industries to speak out over the weekend to put the noise to rest.
343 Industries studio head Pierre Hintze shared a message on Halo’s official Twitter accountwriting, “Halo and Master Chief are here to stay. 343 Industries will continue to improve Halo now and into the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more that make Halo great.”
-Halo (@Halo) January 21, 2023
But because of the studio we have a problem meeting Halo Infinite release dates many times, can the recently demoted 343 continue to handle the development of the big budget, AAA first person shooter franchise? It’s hard to say.
IGN reached out to Xbox representatives, but did not receive a comment prior to publication.
IGN has learned that major cuts have been made to the 343 Halo development team. One of the 343 former employees affected by the layoffs is estimated to be about a quarter of the 343 employees affected, although that’s not a firm figure. We also learned that about 30 people were let go in the 343 art department alone, and former employees said that 343 Industries was hit hard as the positions affected all sectors.
Meanwhile, at least one high-level source with knowledge of the inner workings of 343, but who no longer works at the studio, told IGN that it has been demoted to the publisher team. However, based on conversations IGN has had with informed sources, the situation at 343 appears to be ongoing, and there is a growing – if unconfirmed – belief that 343 will no longer be the sole developer of Halo once it is resolved.
A look at the LinkedIn profiles of some of the laid-off employees reveals hits for people working on Halo Infinite’s engine, presentation, VFX, gameplay, game design, and most important departments. It’s clear that 343 is a very different studio compared to seven days ago. Furthermore, 343 Industries was already going through the growing pains of launching a live game service, with a whirlwind of ups and downs in the past year since Halo Infinite first released.
Despite a strong launch at the end of 2021 that includes the praise of both Infinite a new take on the Halo campaign and franchise Many first-time players play for free, cracks began to appear. The fans quickly retreated Infinite’s controversial multiplayer progression systemas 343 tried to repair the store and pass the war.
Halo Games in Chronological Order
But the problems did not stop there, with cancellation of split screen cooperation, long delay in Forge Modeagain Long content drought during the first seasons of Halo Infinite. Just five months after what seemed to be the beginning of Halo’s big comeback, the the public was impatient.
343 immediately saw the old result after the presentation, with 343 founder Bonnie Ross, multiplayer creative director Tom Frenchagain lead story designer Aaron Linde they all leave the company in 2022.
Patrick Wren, former senior multiplayer designer now working on Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, did not stop to evaluate the leadership of 343 on Twitter.
“The layoffs at 343 should not have happened and Halo Infinite should be in better shape. The reason for both of those things is the ineffective leadership at the top during the development of Halo Infinite which is causing a lot of stress to those who are working hard to make Halo the best it can be,” wrote Wren.
The layoff at 343 shouldn’t have happened and Halo Infinite should be in better shape. The reason for both of those things is the incompetent leadership at the top during the development of Halo Infinite which causes a lot of stress for those who are working hard to make Halo the best it can be.
— Patrick Wren (@Witdarkstar) January 19, 2023
Along with this departure, 343 faces another creative space at the top, with the director of Halo Infinite. Joseph Staten is leaving 343 to rejoin Xbox publishing. Staten’s return to Halo was always designed to be a temporary arrangementbut his departure still causes concern among the Halo faithful.
Whatever happens with Halo in the future, it’s clear that the original 10-year plan for Halo Infinite isn’t playing out exactly as Microsoft had hoped. Meanwhile, Halo Infinite Season 3: Echoes Within will 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 headlines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.