Halo developer 343 Industries says Master Chief and Cortana will remain under the roof, but reports of deep cuts in Halo’s development staff cast doubt on the studio’s ability to sustainably develop future Halo content.
This saga started last week when we heard that the Halo studio was hit by means of Microsoft plans to lay off 10,000 people. Since the news broke, there has been a lot of speculation about Microsoft’s plans for its flagship franchise, including rumours that Microsoft could leave Halo development entirely to another studio, giving 343 Industries more of a producer role. These rumors prompted 343 Industries to speak out this weekend to put the rumble to rest.
343 Industries’ studio head Pierre Hintze shared a post on Halo’s official Twitter accountwriting, “Halo and Master Chief are here to stay. 343 Industries will continue to develop Halo now and into the future, including epic storytelling, multiplayer and more of what makes Halo great.”
— Hello (@Halo) January 21, 2023
But for a studio that has struggled to meet Halo infinity release dates several times, can the recently scaled-down 343 handle the development of a big-budget AAA first-person shooter franchise? It’s hard to say.
IGN reached out to Xbox representatives, but received no comment prior to publication.
IGN has learned that significant cuts have been made to the 343 Halo development team. A former 343 employee affected by the layoffs estimated that about a quarter of 343’s staff were affected, though that’s not a hard statistic. We also learned that about 30 people have been laid off from the art department of 343 alone, with former employees saying 343 Industries was “hit hard with positions impacted across disciplines.”
Meanwhile, at least one high-level source with knowledge of the inner workings of 343 but who is no longer with the studio has claimed to IGN that it is being cut back to the publishing team. However, based on conversations IGN has had with knowledgeable sources, the situation at 343 appears to be ongoing, and there is a growing — albeit unconfirmed — belief that 343 will no longer be Halo’s sole developer when it launches. has been taken care of.
Browsing LinkedIn profiles of other laid-off employees finds hits for people working on Halo Infinite’s engine, presentation, VFX, gameplay, game design, and more essential departments. Clearly, 343 is a significantly different studio than it was just seven days ago. Plus, 343 Industries was already dealing with the growing pains of launching a live service game, with a whirlwind of highs and lows over the past year since the initial release of Halo Infinite.
Despite a strong launch at the end of 2021 with praise for both Infinites fresh take on a Halo campaign and that of the franchise first-ever free-to-play multiplayer, the cracks began to appear quickly. Fans immediately pushed back Infinite’s controversial multiplayer progression systemas 343 rushed to fix the shop and battle pass.
Halo Games in chronological order
But the problems didn’t stop there, with the cancellation of split screen co-op, long delays in Forge modeand long substantive droughts during the early seasons of Halo Infinite. Just five months after what seemed to be the start of Halo’s big comeback, the community ran out of patience.
343 soon saw a creative exodus after launch, with 343 founder Bonnie Ross, Tom French, multiplayer creative directorand lead story designer Aaron Linde all leave the company in 2022.
Patrick Wren, a former senior multiplayer designer now working on Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, was undaunted in his assessment of 343’s leadership in a post on Twitter.
“The layoffs at 343 should not have happened and Halo Infinite should be in a better state. The reason for both of these things is incompetent leadership at the top during the development of Halo Infinite, which causes immense stress for those who work hard to make Halo the way it is. to make it as good as possible,” Wren wrote.
The layoffs at 343 should not have happened and Halo Infinite should be in better shape. The reason for both things is incompetent leadership at the top during the development of Halo Infinite, which causes immense stress for those who work hard to make Halo the best it can be.
— Patrick Wren (@Witdarkstar) January 19, 2023
Along with those departures, 343 faces another creative void at the top, with Halo Infinite director Joseph Staten leaves 343 to rejoin Xbox publishing. Staten’s return to Halo was always meant to be one temporary arrangementbut his departure still causes concern among the Halo faithful.
Regardless of what happens to Halo in the future, it’s clear that the original 10-year plan for Halo Infinite isn’t going exactly as Microsoft hoped. For now, Halo Infinite Season 3: Echoes Within is still scheduled for early March, with new maps, modes, and weapons added 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 gaming industry experience with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.