Layoffs: what does the future hold for Halo, Microsoft’s flagship series?
Games News Layoffs: what does the future hold for Halo, Microsoft’s flagship series?
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The developers at 343 Industries wasted their time developing Halo Infinite. They are now out of work. Microsoft has announced major layoffs at the studio responsible for the adventures of Master Chief founded in 2007. Hello Infinite, is it over?
- The Needlers Massacre
- “The reason is incompetence”
- 117 reasons to be sorry
The Needlers Massacre
On January 19, 2023, Microsoft officially announced the layoffs of 10,000 employees, ending rumors that had surfaced hours earlier on the sky news. What no one expected was that these layoffs would also affect the Xbox studio which usually has nothing to do with the post-Covid normalization that Satya Nadella, the CEO of the group, initially raised to explain these complicated times. Among the entities affected, we find The Coalition (Gears 5), Bethesda (Starfield), and in particular 343 Industries (Halo Infinite). New parent Master Chief – since leaving Bungie – is on his knees. “It’s a massacre” comment Che Chou, former head of Halo esports. In his words, more than 60 developers will thank you. another source resulting in the departure of 130 people, if we count artists whose contracts have not been renewed, for a studio with over 450 employees. According to Bloomberg, it was especially the teams responsible for solo content and campaigns that were hit the hardest.
Microsoft laid off 10,000 people today, including those in its games divisions such as Xbox and Bethesda. These mass layoffs come exactly one year after Microsoft announced plans to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion https://t.co/KGJ4wFtCvB
—Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 18, 2023
This unprecedented wave of layoffs for the studio follows a string of voluntary departures from some of 343 Industries’ most important executives alongside Chris Lee (director of Halo Infinite), David Berger (head of Slipspace Engines), Nicolas Bouvier (art director of games) and most notably Bonnie Ross ( studio founder). Joseph Staten, a former Bungie who became creative director of Halo Infinite when the project faltered in 2020, is returning to Xbox Publishing. While irregularities are commonplace in the world of video games, these signs indicate a structural problem.
“The reason is incompetence”
Few games have caused emotional upheaval with fans usually committed to the cause. Between its gorgeous trailer shown at E3 2018 and its failed gameplay video at Xbox Showcase 2020, Halo Infinite is blowing hot and cold. Pushed back in disaster, 343 Industries’ game is trying not to talk too much about it until E3 2021. When it was released, it was hailed as a miracle. Rated 87/100 on Metacritic, Halo Infinite wasn’t quite the disappointment it announced, although not perfect. It was mainly the multiplayer, free-to-play game mode (a first for the series) that received the most negative reviews months after its arrival due to slightly updated content and late updates.
“The layoffs at 343 shouldn’t have happened” confirm Patrick Wrenformer Halo multiplayer designer now at Respawn. He added: “the reason (…) was the incompetence of the leaders during the development of Halo Infinite which caused tremendous pressure on the people who worked hard to make Halo the best game”. Other developers have expressed their dissatisfaction with Microsoft’s decision, including Tyler Owens and Nicholas Bird, all former employees of 343 Industries. At the time of writing these lines, Microsoft did not want to provide further information about the reasons for this departure and only raised the need for a reorganization.
117 reasons to be sorry
What does this layoff mean for Halo? Simple bathrobe, to whom we owe a lot of information about the world of the series, published several messages on Twitter. According to the source, Halo Infinite content for 2023 will not be affected by the layoffs. For the rest, the small team will be working on a way to make it possible to continue Master Chief’s adventure, with the DLC allowing the main adventure to continue. Unfortunately, the studio’s new director’s pragmatism would lead to abandoning this idea in favor of a strictly multiplayer update, cheaper to produce and offering higher player retention.. It should be noted that these details are very close to the information that JV editorial staff has access to thanks to its own sources. Additionally, Bathrobe Spartan determined that for the foreseeable future, the studio could be content to coordinate follow-ups to the title while ensuring license management to allow other studios to make Halo games. A bit like Konami with the Silent Hill franchise.
Dismissal in 343 Industries is sadly the result of poor studio management and manpower by responsible people.
If this can be avoided, the impact on strategy remains minimal: multiplayer-oriented content.
— Bathrobe Spartan ? Hello Podcast (@BathrobeSpartan) January 19, 2023
We are still waiting for official communication from Microsoft regarding the Halo Infinite case. Can Certain Affinity become a major studio in the continuation of Halo? How many years would it take to wait before being able to continue Master Chief’s adventures? Does Microsoft still believe in its Spartan? Go ask the Agreement.