While many speculated that Microsoft would soon take 343 Industries behind the proverbial woodshed and finished the job it started last week of gutting the studio, a new report from Bloomberg offers a much brighter future for the company’s struggling first-party developer.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft plans to keep making new games in the popular Halo franchise, and those games will be coming from 343 Industries. In a recent interview, head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty reiterated a similar sentiment about Halo staying a 343 Industries development, “343 will continue as the internal developer for Halo and as the home of Halo.”
With that being said, it’s going to be hard to keep the Halo franchise solvent after Microsoft gutted the studio and released dozens of veteran directors, producers, contractors, Q&A, and more last week. A not-so-insignificant portion of its five percent job reduction was aimed at 343 Industries and prior to the cuts at the studio, a shakeup in leadership was also another concern for gamers looking forward to future Halo releases.
Months before the massive layoffs were executed at 343 Industries, franchise stalwart Bonnie Ross left for personal reasons followed by leader of technical development David Berger also departed from the studio leaving the leadership vacuum to be filled by production lead Pierre Hintz, Bryan Koskie as GM and Elizabeth Van Wyck running business and operations.
It’s unclear at this point how this new grouping of leaders will fair with the current skeleton crew at 343 Industires but former employees have fingered the previous executive team as the main catalysts for the studio’s current situation such as designer Patrick Wren.
The layoffs at 343 shouldn't have happened and Halo Infinite should be in a better state. The reason for both of those things is incompetent leadership up top during Halo Infinite development causing massive stress on those working hard to make Halo the best it can be.
— Patrick Wren (@Witdarkstar) January 19, 2023
Leadership isn’t the only issue many saw with how the Halo franchise was being received. The more immediate problem for the franchise was arguably the underpinnings of development for Halo that included its Slipspace engine which has caused both developers and gamers frustration over the past twenty years.
According to the Bloomberg report, there are several multiplayer modes that were left out of the current Halo title but had been available for previous ones and have yet to be released due to issues with the game’s development engine. Despite being a two-decade old known quantity, Slipspace continues to be a bottleneck for the franchise and has arguably led to the poor outlook recent Halo games receive over their lifespan. Slipspace just isn’t keeping up.
While Microsoft has declined to comment on a pivot to a more plug-in-play engine such as Unreal as part of its studio reboot, it would benefit 343 Industires restart greatly to have staff and contractors working with a tool that a substantial portion of the industry understands intimately.
Fortunately, for some, Microsoft plans to continue support for Halo Infinite, while it figures out this new transitional period in the studio’s future.
Microsoft heralded Halo Infinite as a refreshing spearhead title for the next ten years of the franchise, as fans of the game, let’s hope the next time they say it, they mean it.