Why Halo Infinite Keeps Losing Developers | Screen Rant
343 Industries has lost two of their lead directors on Halo Infinite as well as the game's executive producer, but what is causing all this turnover?
It's been five years since the release of the last entry in the Halo series, and it seems fans will have to wait even longer for the franchise's sixth installment. Halo Infinite is currently caught in development hell. The game was originally announced at E3 2018 as a launch title for the Xbox Series X, then called Project Scarlett, but has since been delayed to 2021 with no official release date. Early gameplay previews were disappointing, as the graphics and overall presentation weren't what fans were expecting for a next gen game. What might be worst of all, though, is the fact 343 Industries is struggling to hold onto its lead developers on the game.
Back in October, director, Chris Lee, announced he would be leaving 343 Industries. Lee was hired by 343 back in 2008 and had been serving as a studio head since 2016. Lee is the second top director to leave the project in two years as former creative director, Tim Longo, and executive producer Mary Olson both left back in August 2019. Longo left after being moved to a new position at 343 and has since started developing a game with late night host Seth Myers. Olson left the project to join Midwinter Entertainment.
After the departures of Longo and Olson, 343 Industries stated that production and the overall creative vision of the game would remain with Lee. However, after the disappointing reception Halo Infinite received from early previews, Lee's role was "sidelined" by 343, according to Bloomberg. Microsoft then brought in long-time Bungie veteran Joe Staten to lead the single-player campaign, and Microsoft senior executive Pierre Hintze to work on the multiplayer side. Lee announced he would be leaving 343 and Halo Infinite shortly after.
Losing two directors and an executive producer all in the span of two years isn't a good sign for a game that's been in development for five years and still has no official release date. However, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer is telling fans they shouldn't be worried. Spencer admits Halo Infinite's poor reception is something he takes very seriously and partially puts on himself, which likely means he knew how bad the game looked going into the preview. But he also acknowledges that he trusts 343 Industries and isn't anxious about any staff changes; although it's a concerning trend. He mentioned that turnover is a good thing in the long run because it helps promote people who are motivated by their work. Perhaps this is implying that the developers who have left the project weren't the right people for the job. Although, this much turnover in addition to the delays can't be beneficial to the game unless they have plans to fully rebuild the project, similar to Metroid Prime 4.
For the most part, this just seems like a bunch of lip service to calm the angry mob of Halo fans. At least Spencer mentioned that fan disapproval of early gameplay is what led 343's promise to work on visuals. Hopefully new leadership can help make these corrections, but there might be too much to fix. 343 created their own engine specifically for Halo Infinite called Slipspace. It was meant to tap into the true potential of the Xbox Series X, but the results were clearly less than satisfactory. The studio will have to juggle fixing their engine, while also implementing changes to single-player and multiplayer as directed by new leadership, which could lead to further issues. Lee, Longo, and Olsen look like they all jumped ship at the right time.
343 had planned for Halo Infinite to be a sequel to Halo 5: Guardians while also serving as a spiritual reboot to help the game get back to its roots and connect with a new generation of gamers. There had also been plans for a Live Service Structure with multiplayer content, regular patches, DLCs, and seasonal events. However, it's tough to tell how much is still in development with new creative direction. Fans will just have to wait and see to get a better idea of the game, and hope Halo Infinite hits shelves sometime before the end of 2021.
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