A reader insists that he was right to be worried about 343’s stewardship of Halo and advises using the makers of Doom to refresh the series.
Back in September 2022 I wrote a Reader’s Feature called 343 Industries need to be shut down before they ruin Halo completely. I had expected quite a backlash to such a suggestion but, actually, most of the comments seemed to be in sad agreement, that the developer of Halo had been given one (or more) chances too many and they needed to be taken off the franchise before they kill it.
Other fans may have agreed with me but Microsoft apparently did not, as we went through several more months of failures and of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer becoming ever more irrelevant. Then this week we started to get stories of Microsoft cutting 10,000 staff, with 343 Industries being the most badly hit of any game studio. Despite my earlier feature, this did not make me happy. I am well aware that these are real people with lives and commitments of their own, that are suddenly out of a job.
But then I don’t blame any developer at 343 for the mess of the last few years, when it’s blindingly obvious to everyone that this is a management issue. Something which was immediately confirmed by ex-343 staff complaining about managers when they were still there and putting the blame squarely on them.
As if that wasn’t bad enough we then get rumours, not yet confirmed as I write this, that 343 are no longer going to be making Halo games themselves and will instead simply oversee others that are. That is exactly the sort of thing I was getting at last year, but unfortunately Microsoft waited too long and the price of that hesitation is that it’s now reported that the mainline games will no longer have a story component – with any narrative based games becoming lower budget spin-offs.
That is most definitely not what I wanted to hear. Especially as it sounds like it’s a decision made by Microsoft bean counters, who are worried no one’s going to be buying microtransactions for a story campaign. In fact, they’ve apparently cancelled all plans for any more story DLC at all.
On the one hand, something had to be done but on the other it should have been obvious to Microsoft a decade ago that 343 wasn’t up to the job and certainly the last three years showed that major change was need. But now, because they’ve left it to the last minute, the damage, including to people’s jobs, is that much more severe.
But hopefully the boil has at last been lanced and we can just start building Halo back up. The tone of the rumours suggests Microsoft wants to turn it into an almost solely multiplayer franchise, which is absolutely not what should happen. But I’m going to predict that they’ll release a standalone single-player game that will be a ‘surprise’ hit and suddenly Microsoft will realise that they made the wrong decision – because easily avoidable failure seems to be the only way these companies ever learn.
We’ve got to move on though and while they already seem to have a range of small studios working on the multiplayer I’d like to see them become bolder in who they use. They’re already buying Activision so there’s some potential there, to use Call Of Duty developers to make new Halo, but personally I’d like to see what id Software can do with the franchise.
Doom Eternal is still one of my favourite shooters of recent years but I’d just like to see what a new team can do with the universe, one that hopefully won’t be looking over their shoulder at Bungie quite so much.
I think they’re busy at the moment, with the Indiana Jones game, but it’d also be interesting to see what the Wolfenstein devs MachineGames could do too, as I love their approach to story-based shooters. Basically, Microsoft needs to take fully advantage of their breadth of studios and not keep relying on getting in outside help or just putting up with something that’s clearly not working.
By reader Winston
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