Joseph Staten, the head of creative on Halo Infinite and a former longtime writer at Bungie, is leaving Microsoft, the company confirmed to IGN. Staten left Bungie during the troubled development of Destiny and joined Microsoft in early 2014, helping Xbox Game Studios publish a variety of games. In 2020, after Halo Infinite's infamous first showing and year-long delay, Staten joined 343 Industries to see the project to completion.
The initial positivity around Infinite's release in 2021 quickly soured, leading to a rough first year for the game. Just as it seemed like Infinite was starting to find its footing, Microsoft announced it would be laying off 10,000 employees, including developers at 343. At the same time, Staten left 343 to return to Xbox publishing. That move has proven to be short-lived.
"We're grateful for Joseph’s contributions to the Halo franchise and Xbox as a whole," Microsoft said in a statement to IGN. "We wish him all the best in his new adventure."
When Microsoft enacted its sweeping layoffs in March, one former 343 developer tweeted: "The layoffs at 343 shouldn't have happened and Halo Infinite should be in a better state. 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." There was speculation at the time that the layoffs hit Halo Infinite's singleplayer team especially hard, and that changes in 343 leadership meant existing plans for campaign DLC were scrapped.
Perhaps Staten was simply ready for something new. But given his history working on the narrative side of Halo development, the end of 343's singleplayer plans seem a likely catalyst for his departure.