Halo Infinite dev 343 Industries is 'starting from scratch' after layoffs and leadership changes
Halo remains 'critically important to what Xbox is doing', says Microsoft CEO of Gaming Phil Spencer
The future of Halo was thrown into doubt last month after 343 Industries suffered layoffs and leadership changes when Microsoft let go of 10,000 employees. It appears 343 Industries is now “starting from scratch” when it comes to future Halo games.
Halo Infinite’s creative director Joseph Staten was one of the studio’s most notable recent departures, and prior to that general manager Bonnie Ross also announced she was leaving.
Kiki Wolfkill, who was the head of transmedia and entertainment and has been at 343 since 2008, has also left according to her LinkedIn profile – though she remains in a similar role at Microsoft - and Halo’s multiplayer creative director Tom French departed last year.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Halo starting from scratch
😩 Halo developer 343 Industries is reportedly “starting from scratch”
🔎 Bloomberg says staff and leadership changes have forced the studio to refocus its efforts
💥 New single-player content for Halo Infinite has been scrapped
⚙️ The studio is also moving to a new engine for future games
The changes to 343 Industries’ staff and structure left many wondering whether Microsoft was finished with Master Chief and the Halo franchise as a whole. But it appears that 343 Industries is still being trusted with the future of Halo, though it’s undergoing a major rebuild.
Bloomberg reports that the studio, which took the reigns from Bungie in 2007, is moving away from Halo Infinite’s proprietary engine, called Slipspace, and focusing on using Epic’s popular Unreal Engine instead for future games.
Bloomberg said the Slipspace Engine, which was designed specifically to power Halo Infinite, has been one of the biggest hurdles when creating new content for the game as it’s “buggy and difficult to use”.
Story content, such as single-player DLC, has also been scrapped, meaning the studio will shift its attention to its live service offering like Halo Infinite’s multiplayer component.
Finish the fight
Halo Infinite launched to critical acclaim and is generally regarded as one of the best Xbox Series X games for Microsoft’s console. However, after switching to a live service model for its multiplayer and launching with several key features missing, players began to grow frustrated with the lack of updates.
343 Industries has tried to address these issues in recent months, releasing online co-op for Halo Infinite’s campaign and Forge Mode in beta as part of its Winter Update. But there’s still a huge gulf between the type of regular content drops that other live service games deliver.
Still, Microsoft's CEO of Gaming Phil Spencer stressed that Halo remains “critically important to what Xbox is doing” and spoke about the recent changes.
Speaking to IGN, Spencer said: “What we're doing now is we want to make sure that the leadership team is set up with the flexibility to build the plan that they need to go build. And Halo will remain critically important to what Xbox is doing, and 343 is critically important to the success of Halo.
“In terms of support studios and other things, that's just part of development and having other partners help us. But the heart and soul of Halo is with 343 and the team that's there, and I have the utmost confidence in the team that's there and leading and the plan that they have going forward.
“We know we needed to make some commitments to people about the content updates and our timing on those and the quality, and we didn't hit our own bar for doing that,” Spencer added. “I believe in the team that's there [...] the team has a very good plan.”
Will Halo bounce back, then? With a successful TV show, strong brand recognition, and a genuinely excellent foundation to work on, it almost seems like it would be harder to fail.
However, ever since 343 Industries became the custodians of Halo, it’s been a rocky relationship, to say the least. Fingers crossed the new changes will finally help Halo get back to where it belongs.
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