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— Halo (@Halo) January 21, 2023
The 343 Industries studio has experienced the biggest impact of Microsoft’s latest layoff decision. Reports say Microsoft reduced between 60 to 130 individuals in the unit, causing many to fear the future of the Halo franchise it is managing. Nonetheless, the studio’s head, Pierre Hintze, assured fans through a recent post on the game’s Twitter account by saying, “Halo and Master Chief are here to stay.”
Aside from 343i, other Xbox studios that have suffered from the layoff decision include Bethesda Game Studios and The Coalition. However, 343i is reportedly hit the hardest by the move, which is worsened by the hiring freeze. A Halo enthusiast and leaker even claims that the layoff in 343i accounts for one-third of the unit’s population. This raised questions of whether Microsoft is still confident in the studio for managing and developing the game and its future content, especially with the different technical issues players always face in the game. Hintze then stepped in to clear doubts.
“343 Industries will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more of what makes Halo great,” Hintze’s statement reads.
While the statement assures the future of Halo in handling the franchise, the issue didn’t stop the former 343i employees from expressing their frustrations over the layoff and the management in their former workplace.
Don't forget the heavy reliance on contractors/vendors and that messed up system (though I know that's more MS). I would have loved to stay on the team if I could of and worked my way up. Still one of my favorite jobs I have been at.
— Nick | SIR IRON WOLF (@Nick_TheBirdMan) January 19, 2023
“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,” said Patrick Wren, a former senior multiplayer designer for Halo Infinite. “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.”
“I will lend to the voices saying that 343 Industries had deeply entrenched, harmful cultural issues … I recently had a significant trauma/panic response because of my time there. I continue to grapple with the damage every day,” said Morgan Lockhart, a former Halo 4 and 5 developer at 343i. “It’s hard to undersell the feelings I have of ‘lost time,’ and what it has taken to get back what my years there took from me with respect to psychological safety, trusting others, trust in the industry, and most deeply, trust & confidence in myself.”
Worsening the current situation is the discovery of Microsoft’s invite-only Sting concert for its executives. According to The Wall Street Journal, the private performance took place in Davos on Tuesday last week, a night before the confirming the company’s job cuts. Apparently, this attracted criticism from various individuals.
Microsoft: let’s hire Sting for a private concert for 50 executives at the World Economic Forum.
Also Microsoft: let’s layoff 5% of our workforce.
— Genevieve Roch-Decter, CFA (@GRDecter) January 20, 2023