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Former Halo developers criticise Microsoft for 343 Industries layoffs
“Incompetent leadership” is blamed for Halo Infinite’s rocky development
News that 343 Industries employees are among those to be laid off by Microsoft has been met with criticism from several former Halo developers.
On Wednesday, Microsoft confirmed plans to lay off approximately 4.5% of the US technology giant’s 220,000-person workforce (around 10,000 people).
Reports from Bloomberg and Lords of Gaming then identified 343 as one of several game studios to be affected, with the latter claiming the Halo developer had suffered a “significant” number of layoffs, particularly those working on single-player elements.
Several former 343 staff have since responded to the news, and criticised Microsoft for its part in Halo Infinite‘s rocky development.
One critic is Patrick Wren, who had worked for 343 for eight years and was senior multiplayer designer on Halo Infinite before leaving in October 2021 to join Respawn to work on Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
“The layoffs at 343 shouldn’t have happened and Halo Infinite should be in a better state,” Wren tweeted. “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 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.
“Devs still there are working hard on that dream. Look at Forge. Be kind to them during this awful time.”
Wren’s criticism was seemingly aimed at the game’s campaign leadership team. “I do want to make sure that I call out how amazing the Multiplayer Leadership team was during development,” he said.
More criticism came from Tyler Owens, who worked for 343 during the development of Halo 5 in a studio operations role and is also now with Respawn, as a build engineer on Apex Legends.
“As a Halo fan I’m really tired of Microsoft business practices and policies slowly killing the thing I love,” Owens tweeted.
He went on to allege: “Between the contracting policies they abuse for tax incentives and layoffs in the face of gigantic profits/executive bonuses, they set Halo up for failure.”
Even prior to this week’s layoff news, 343 Industries has seen a number of recent senior departures including its multiplayer creative director, its director of engineering, and Bonnie Ross, who was the studio head for 15 years.
Coinciding with news of the layoffs, it was also reported that Halo veteran and head of creative Joseph Staten is leaving 343 to rejoin Xbox Game Studios Publishing.
Halo Infinite has had a troubled production, suffering various delays and changes of leadership in the years leading up to its December 2021 release and since.
Following the arrival of the game’s major Winter Update last November, 343 thanked Halo Infinite fans for their patience during a year in which the studio struggled to deliver several highly anticipated features for the game.