Developer of Halo Infinite and the studio created to helm Xbox’s flagship franchise 343 Industries has announced that it is still in fact in charge of the Halo series, as reports and rumours began to emerge that Microsoft was planning to take the studio off of the FPS game series.
After a supposed leak revealed that the Halo series would be helmed by third-party studios going forward, the official Halo Twitter account has dispelled all speculation by confirming that both the Halo singleplayer and multiplayer will still be developed by 343 Industries – the studio formed by Microsoft to oversee the series after Bungie left to develop Destiny.
“Halo and Master Chief are here to stay,” 343 Industries studio head Pierre Hintze says. “343 Industries will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more of what makes Halo great.”
This statement follows not just the circulation of rumours that 343 will be taken off Halo, but news that the colossal Microsoft layoffs also impacted the studio as well. While many developers still at 343 have come out in support of their former colleagues, there still hasn’t been any official statement from 343 itself on the layoffs.
Microsft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer did respond to the layoffs, calling it a “challenging moment in our business” filled with “painful choices.” Spencer also told the remaining employees in the same email (seen by Kotaku) that “your work is so deeply appreciated and valued in these times of change and is integral to our business momentum.”
These layoffs follow official reports from Microsoft that it had a record 2022, with a statement saying “We reported $198 billion in revenue and $83 billion in operating income. And the Microsoft Cloud surpassed $100 billion in annualized revenue for the first time.”
“Gaming revenue increased $860 million or 6% on a strong prior year comparable that benefited from Xbox Series X|S launches and stay-at-home scenarios,” the Microsoft report adds, “driven by growth in Xbox hardware and Xbox content and services. Xbox hardware revenue increased 16% due to continued demand for Xbox Series X|S. Xbox content and services revenue increased 3% driven by growth in Xbox Game Pass subscriptions and first-party content, offset in part by a decline in third-party content.”
I’m glad to see 343 Industries clear up rumours that spread like wildfire, but I also can’t help but feel disheartened by the fact that this seems to have completely overshadowed the layoffs inflicting those that worked at 343. Unsubstantiated rumours do require clarification, but 343 itself has not commented publicly on the layoffs of its own employees. I doubt the studio will at this point too.
At this point, the future of the Halo series really hangs in the balance. I don’t believe the flagship shooter will disappear, but Halo Infinite underperformed and didn’t launch with all the elements to make it a live service game that could fight for a space (just look at the Avengers game shutting down to see how difficult it can be) in the market. Despite now having Forge and campaign co-op, it’s all come a little too late.
This all raises the question of how much stock Microsoft will put in Halo as a series going forward. There are rumours of a Halo Infinite battle royale mode, but for the foreseeable Microsoft will be putting a lot of its faith in a game like Starfield to perform, instead of its flagship shooter.