Ex-Halo dev speaks out on Xbox layoffs and horrid management

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Xbox Game Studios’ flagship developer 343 Industries has been hit hard by Microsoft’s mass layoffs. The 400-strong company, split between game development and merchandising, has seen over 60 layoffs, many of which were working on new single-player content for Halo Infinite.

Xbox’s Halo developer has not had a great few years. The first year of Halo Infinite — a game with a ten-year plan of multiplayer and single-player additions — has been underwhelming for fans. While the game has seen the recent inclusion of a thoroughly amazing Forge mode, there are clear areas for improvements.

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However, there is a sense that Microsoft’s cutbacks to the team may force the studio to switch up plans. While multiplayer development seems to be set in stone, future campaign plans may be delayed or even cancelled altogether.

Fans are not the only ones frustrated at the news. Former Senior Multiplayer Designer at Halo, Patrick Wren exposed the studio’s poor management on Twitter. Wren, now a developer on Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, explained that the studio’s passionate developers were crippled by poor decisions up high.

“The layoffs at 343 shouldn't have happened and Halo Infinite should be in a better state,” Wren said. “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.”

The game developer urged fans to not blame the developers for issues with the game. While the community has often declared that 343 doesn’t care about Halo, Wren confirmed that the developers actually making the game are enamoured with the franchise, despite management blunders.

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“The people I worked every day with were passionate about Halo and wanted to make something great for the fans. They helped push for a better Halo and got laid off for it,” he said. “Devs still there are working hard on that dream. Look at Forge. Be kind to them during this awful time.”

Another aspect of Halo Infinite’s troubled development that is often discussed is Microsoft’s reliance on contract work. With the company’s contractors only able to work on a title for a short amount of time, and having to work with proprietary tools, development was reportedly staggered.

In his Twitter replies, Wren mentioned the horrid reliance on contractors during Infinite’s development. However, the game developer didn’t go into too much detail.

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“Oh man. The contract stuff is a whole other can of worms that p*sses me off,” he said. “So many amazing people and talent that just disappeared.”

Microsoft hasn’t announced any plans to move the Halo franchise away from 343 Industries or pull the plug early on Halo Infinite. While it may not pull in the numbers it used to, even as a free-to-play game, Halo is still the company’s biggest game franchise. With a hit TV show on Paramount taking off with non-gamers, it’s clear that Halo still has weight. Microsoft just needs to support it.

Xbox Game Studios is attempting to escape its reliance on Halo, Gears of War and Forza. With its acquisition of Bethesda Game Studios parent company Zenimax, the gaming brand will be home to massive franchises such as Doom, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. However, as the franchise that made Xbox popular, Halo is Microsoft’s Mario, and it should be treated as such.