Microsoft Brings Back Halo Veteran to Get Delayed Game Back on Track

Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox unit is shifting more senior talent to its delayed Halo Infinite, including a well-regarded veteran of the multibillion-dollar series, to help get the most important game for the new Xbox console back on track.

Joseph Staten, who played a large role in developing and writing the earliest Halo titles and had most recently been overseeing another Microsoft-published game, will move to Halo development studio 343 Industries, Bloomberg News reported earlier. He confirmed the change in a tweet, while a community update posted by 343 said he’ll be focused on improving the game’s campaign mode, aiding the existing development leaders. Microsoft’s also moving Pierre Hintze, another senior leader within 343, to focus on Halo Infinite and serve as a project lead for its free-to-play experience.

The new project leads will work with studio head Chris Lee and report to Bonnie Ross, a Microsoft vice president who oversees 343, according to a person familiar with the strategy who asked not to be named.

In a blow to its upcoming Xbox Series X console, which debuts in November, Microsoft earlier this month delayed Halo Infinite’s release to next year, blaming remote work during the pandemic for slowing development. That came after a first look at gameplay in late July that wasn’t well received by Halo franchise fans. The series has generated billions in sales for Microsoft and was expected to anchor the console launch, going up against Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 5, whose initial slate of games was met with a much warmer reception.

Staten, one of the most renowned figures among Halo fans, started his video game career in the 1990s at Bungie, the studio that created the series. He was responsible for writing, editing and directing cut-scenes on the first three Halo games, which were beloved by fans for their rich characters and universes. He remained at Bungie when the studio split from Microsoft in 2007 and ended its work on Halo, but abruptly departed in 2013, just a year before the launch of Bungie's online sci-fi game Destiny. Staten then rejoined Microsoft in 2014 to work on non-Halo games in the Xbox portfolio. 343 was founded to take over the Halo games after Bungie left.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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