343 Industries hasn't had the best start to the decade. The company lost key people and was reportedly hit hard by the recent Microsoft layoffs. Now, it's rumored that it will be reduced to a publishing team rather than the lead developer for Halo Infinite.
Despite its recent struggles and being affected by the massive layoff, 343 remains "critically important" to Halo Infinite. Xbox chief Phil Spencer recently sat down for an interview with IGN after the Developer_Direct live stream to address concerns regarding the beleaguered studio.
"What we’re doing now is we want to make sure that leadership team is set up with the flexibility to build the plan that they need to go build," Spencer shared. "And Halo will remain critically important to what Xbox is doing, and 343 is critically important to the success of Halo."
"In terms of support studios and other things, that's just part of development and having other partners help us. But the heart and soul of Halo is with 343 and the team that's there, and I have the utmost confidence in the team that's there and leading and the plan that they have going forward," Spencer continues.
Several reports suggest that 343 Industries is one of the studios most affected by the massive layoff. Bethesda, The Coalition, and Xbox have also been included in the job cuts initiated by Microsoft, which resulted in the loss of some 10,000 jobs. For reference, Microsoft posted $139.110 billion in profits last year.
Insiders shared that every department in 343 has been hit hard. There are reports that the studio lost a significant number of developers working on the single-player elements of Halo Infinite. There was speculation that another studio may be working on Halo, while 343 would take on a publisher role.
343 Industries took to social media to assure fans that the studio will still be working on the popular Xbox IP. "Halo and Master Chief are here to stay," the studio tweeted. "343 Industries will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more of what makes Halo great."
— Halo (@Halo) January 21, 2023
That said, further details about what's exactly going on are scarce. When asked about the future of Halo Infinite, Spencer left it up to 343 to discuss plan for the future of the first-person shooter, which will only happen whenever the studio actually has something to announce.
"I’m going to let 343 talk about the plans that they have right now, that people know they have the next season that’s coming up, and they’re excited about that," Spencer said. "They’ve got some other things, some rumored, some announced, that they’ll be working on. They’re excited about the plan forward. I look at, say, the work that they’ve done on Forge and the amazing support we’ve had from creators there."
"Halo is always going to be one of those things in my mind that is part of Xbox lore, part of just the foundation of what Xbox is about," Spencer explains. "I expect that we'll be continuing to support and grow Halo for as long as the Xbox is a platform for people to play. So I think the timeline goes on and on in line with Xbox, and I want to make sure the team's set up to succeed with that."
Season 3 of Halo Infinite is coming on March 7th and will feature three new maps and two game modes. The game will add new weapons, armor sets, and a multiplayer narrative. Halo Infinite will also get a graphical upgrade in the form of ray tracing.
Halo Infinite is available on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.