Of all the Microsoft teams trapped in the blast radius of mass layoffs announced yesterdayit is possible Halo infinity maker 343 Industries was one of the hardest hit. The studio has had to deal with a wave of departures halo infinity’s multiplayer struggles and the new cuts have drawn strong criticism from those who managed to get it in this mess in the first place.
“The layoffs at 343 should not have happened and Halo infinity should be in a better condition,’ used to be Halo infinity multiplayer designer, Patrick Wren, tweeted Wednesday night. “The reason for both things is incompetent leadership at the top during Halo infinity development that causes enormous stress for those who work hard to make Halo the best it can be.
That’s no secret at the moment Halo infinity faced with a tumultuous development cycle, of a constant changing cast of directors until long delays after a gameplay reveal was pilloried online for its crude-looking graphics. Former studio leads have too previously suggested on periods of crunch on the project, while a Bloomberg report detailed developers’ struggles with the game engine and issues with Microsoft’s reliance on contract workers who constantly filtered out the studio instead of full-time staff. “The contract thing is a whole other can of worms that pisses me off,” Wren tweeted last night. “So many great people and talent that just disappeared.”
It’s rare for game developers to speak candidly about the problems they’ve seen with previous projects, let alone openly share their thoughts on how a team or studio was managed. Wren, who just left 343 Industries just before Halo infinity‘s launch in 2021, then went on to praise his former colleagues and their efforts to deliver on the full promise of the game’s multiplayer.
“The people I worked with every day were passionate Halo and wanted to make something amazing for the fans,” he tweeted. “Hey helped push for better Halo and was fired for it. Devs are still working hard on that dream. Look at Forge. Be kind to them during this terrible time.”
The harsh criticism came after Microsoft announced it would cut 10,000 jobs at the tech giant’s operations, including gaming, despite reports “capture resultslast year, including $83 billion in operating income. The night before, from the company top executives were reportedly busy a serenade from Sting Bee a personalized concert in the Swiss Alps.
Meanwhile, if reports from my city and others poured in that Xbox studios ranging from The Coalition to Bethesda were swept up in the layoffs, it became clear as the day wore on that 343 Industries was facing particularly brutal cutbacks as many developers on Halo infinityincluding some high-ranking ones, shared the news on social media that they had been affected.
Even before yesterday’s layoffs, 343 Industries faced wave after wave of high-level departures as Halo infinity struggled to ship new seasonal updates and features on time. Most notable was the departure of studio head Bonnie Ross last September. More recently, multiplayer director and old Halo veteran Tom French revealed he was due to leave in December. And yesterday, amidst the chaos, Bloomberg reported that director and longtime Halo writer, Joseph Staten, was moving to the Xbox publishing side of the company when the studio made the “difficult decision to restructure”.
Even more unfortunate, this latest setback for the studio comes on the heels of a rare bright spot Halo infinity‘s post-launch live service campaign: the Forge creator mode. After the cancellation of split-screen co-op, many fans saw it as an opportunity to do just that save the game by allowing players to create their maps and modes. And so they have, with creations inspired by everything from The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim until pokemon. It is the most positive some Halo infinity players have felt since launch, but that’s how the game’s future is once again uncertain.
When Halo Infinite was first revealed in 2020, 343 Industries studio head Chris Lee called it the “beginning of the next 10 years Halo.” A few months later, he left for Amazon.