Microsoft's layoffs have reportedly "hit hard" the studio.
A couple of days ago, 343 Industries Studio Head Pierre Hintze published a brief affirmation, stating that despite the recent massive round of layoffs at Microsoft, the beloved Halo franchise is "here to stay" and that the studio would keep creating content for the franchise in the present and future. However, despite the studio's positive look at the situation, it seems that the cuts affected 343 much harder than anyone could assume, to the extent that the studio might not be Halo's sole developer in the near future.
As reported by IGN, the layoffs impacted "about a quarter of 343's staff", affecting developers from game engine, presentation, VFX, gameplay, game design, and many other departments, with the art department alone losing around 30 workers. "343 Industries was hit hard with positions impacted across all disciplines," one of the former employees told IGN. Another anonymous source "with knowledge of 343's internal workings" claimed that "the studio is being reduced to a publishing team", adding that the situation at 343 is ongoing.
Most recently, it was also reported that Halo veteran Joseph Staten who worked on the game at both Bungie and 343 Industries departed from the studio. In early December, Halo multiplayer creative director Tom French left 343 Industries after nearly 12 years of work. Other significant departures from the studio include the studio's founder Bonnie Ross, engineering director David Berger, art director Nicolas Bouvier, and design lead Jerry Hook.