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Ex-Halo Infinite Dev Criticizes 343 Leadership & Leaks Allege Campaign DLCs Have Been Scrapped
On the same day that Microsoft announced it would be laying off 10,000 workers, including employees at game studios Bethesda and 343 Industries, former senior multiplayer designer on Halo Infinite, Patrick Wren, criticized the management’s direction for the game. Leaks also emerged claiming that there were plans to develop DLCs for Halo Infinite’s Campaign but were scrapped due to the new management.
He stated that the layoffs were unnecessary and that the game should be in a better state. He blamed this on the “incompetent leadership” during the game’s development which led to a lot of stress on the team. Although the layoffs were not solely due to 343 Industries, Wren suggested that the studio could have done more to spare or at least minimize the impact on their team. Halo Infinite has had a difficult journey, with its initial reveal met with scepticism and delays, but ultimately had a positive reception when it launched in the Fall of 2021.
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
However, since then, the game has struggled to maintain momentum with fans dissatisfied with the slow pace of updates and promised features not being added until a year after launch. Additionally, the studio has seen a number of key departures, including the studio’s founder and lead designers. Wren and a contractor who worked on Halo Infinite also criticized how 343 Industries used contract labour in the game’s development.
They both lamented the Microsoft-imposed time caps on contract workers, which led to a lot of talent leaving the team. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier also posted a Tweet about this issue in 2020, stating that at Microsoft, contractors can only work for 18 months max and that this limit leads to a lot of attrition. Wren did have some positive words for the multiplayer team, stating that they were amazing during development. It is unusual for a developer to speak so openly and critically about a former employer, but this shows how strongly Wren feels about the leadership during Halo Infinite’s development.
At Microsoft, contractors can only work for 18 months max. (They can then come back after a six-month break.) Microsoft uses so many contractors that this limit leads to a lot of attrition — and for games that take 4+ years to make, like Halo Infinite, it has been disruptive
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) August 27, 2020
343 Industries’ lack of readiness to launch a live service game after a full year’s delay has been baffling and disappointing for players. The frustration within the studio must be high, especially as layoffs are happening at one of the wealthiest companies in the world.
Now with that said, leaks have also surfaced via the French Halo podcast Bathrobe Spartan‘s Twitter where they posted a thread addressing the layoffs alongside some other controversial topics regarding Microsoft, 343 and Halo Infinite.
Les licenciements au sein de 343 Industries s'inscrivent malheureusement en conséquence d'une mauvaise gestion du studio et de ses effectifs par les personnes en charge.
Si cela aurait pu être évité, l'impact sur la stratégie reste minime: du contenu axé multijoueur.
? Thread pic.twitter.com/eB1AyaNk1O
— Bathrobe Spartan ? Podcast Halo (@BathrobeSpartan) January 19, 2023
The Twitter thread is in French but thankfully user, P40L0 on ResetEra, summarised the points from the translation. What the thread essentially states is that with the layoffs in Microsoft, it seems that 343 Industries has lost around 1/3 of its workforce, both internal and contractors.
Despite this major reshuffle, the company’s plans for 2023 remain unchanged, with a focus on multiplayer for this year. This includes the addition of Forge MM, new Seasons/BP, new maps, and possibly Tatanka. Before Bonnie Ross quit, Joseph Staten and a small team were preparing to ship multiple contained Campaign DLC to expand the game’s narrative over time.
However, this plan was halted when Pierre Hintze and new key roles came in after Ross, as they saw too much complexity in creating new content for the Campaign and it was not profitable enough to sustain. As a result, they decided to focus solely on multiplayer for the time being, which may have led to Staten’s decision to leave.
Halo Infinite largely missed its financial and overall goals, leading to Microsoft’s decision to halt 343’s “active development” and transform them into “franchise coordinators.” This means that, in addition to supporting Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, which is already largely outsourced to Certain Affinity, Spearsoft, and others, their role will be limited to ensuring that different external studios create further Halo projects (direct sequels to Infinite’s story or spin-offs of different genres) while respecting all the established lore and fundamentals for the IP.
The Slipspace Engine is still in place along with its internal engineers, but it will be opened up for use by all external studios working with the IP (if they want).
In this sense, 343 Industries, along with Microsoft Game Publishing, started contacting and contracting external studios to create “future Halo experiences” together in 2020, with the aim of reducing and optimizing costs and budget.
So in essence, for the Multiplayer fans, it’s pretty much the same old. We’ll still be getting new Battle Passes and Seasons. Whether or not they’ll actually fix what’s wrong with the game is up in the air right now.
Unfortunately for Campaign players, the base Campaign is all that we’ll be getting for the foreseeable future. If enough noise is made, then maybe 343 will do something about it but given the fact that the Campaign side didn’t bring in much from a monetary standpoint, I doubt anything will be done of it.
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