What you need to know
- Microsoft recently announced mass layoffs at the company, and Halo developer 343 Industries was reportedly heavily impacted.
- The sudden layoffs sparked rampant speculation on the now-shaky future of the Halo franchise under 343i.
- On Saturday, 343i studio head Pierre Hintze released a public statement that "Halo and Master Chief are here to stay."
- The incredibly short statement goes on to say that 343i will "continue to develop Halo now and in the future."
The future of the Halo franchise, one of Xbox's most legendary gaming IPs, has been a subject of much debate on the internet after it was revealed that Halo developer 343 Industries was heavily impacted by Microsoft's recent layoff announcements. On Saturday, studio head Pierre Hintze attempted to assuage concerns with a short public statement on the topic.
pic.twitter.com/03Xm3a9s59January 21, 2023
The public statement, posted to the Halo Twitter account and accredited to Hintze, simply reads: "Halo and Master Chief are here to stay. 343 Industries will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more of what makes Halo great."
Microsoft announced earlier last week its intention to cut 10,000 jobs before March 31, 2023, with a plethora of the company's teams being affected by the aggressive reorganization. Included in the layoffs are multiple Xbox studios like Bethesda Game Studios, The Coalition, and 343 Industries. Of the three, 343i has reportedly been hit the hardest, with between 60 and 130 layoffs drastically reducing the studio's workforce in addition to a long-running exodus of contractors and a hiring freeze.
The sudden cuts to 343i, as well as the return of Halo Infinite creative head Joseph Staten to Xbox Publishing, led to a widespread backlash from ex-Halo developers, affected employees, and the Halo community. There was heavy speculation that Microsoft had lost faith in 343i to run Halo, and that the franchise's future, at least under the studio, may be in jeopardy. Hintze's public statement on Saturday attempts to refute those rumors by assuring fans that the Halo franchise is alive and well and is "here to stay" under 343 Industries.
The response from the Halo fanbase has been mixed, to say the least. While Halo Infinite was generally well received at launch and can still be considered as one of Xbox's best games for shooter fans, inconsistent messaging, live service pitfalls, and a slow drip of new content has undoubtedly damaged the game's reputation. Many Halo fans are dissatisfied with the undetailed, scarcely worded statement that does little to actually address community feedback or criticism, while others blame leadership at 343i for irrevocably harming the Halo franchise (and therefore would rather see the IP in another studio's hands).
Windows Central's take
Halo Infinite is indubitably a flawed video game, but it's one that I nonetheless greatly enjoy playing. Its single-player campaign is excellent, and the multiplayer had an amazing foundation from the beginning — it's the ongoing live service elements that have failed to keep up with industry or player expectations. I feel bad for the talented, passionate developers at 343i who have either been laid off unceremoniously, or simply want to make Halo the best it can possibly be but can't do to overhead decisions.
343 Industries is populated by fantastic people that love Halo; If anything is to blame for the state of Halo in 2023, it's widespread mismanagement at the leadership level that extends years into the past. I hope to see Halo Infinite, and the franchise as a whole, continue to expand and improve over time, and I hope that Microsoft invests in 343i to make that happen. It's good that the studio chose to publicly address concerns with a statement, but I would have preferred to see a firmer, more confident message rather than a vague, two-sentence assurance that the Halo franchise isn't dead.
The future of Halo may have been shaken by recent events, but the entire past and present catalog of legendary Halo games is still available on every tier of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, including Infinite and the Master Chief Collection.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.