Halo franchise creative director Frank O’Connor has left Microsoft and series developer 343 Industries, as confirmed in a statement from Microsoft sent to Axios. O’Connor had updated his LinkedIn page recently to note that he had left Microsoft this month, but there had been no official confirmation till today. He had been with Microsoft since 2003.
Microsoft provided the following statement: “We thank Frank for his numerous contributions to the Halo franchise and wish him well going forward.” In the meantime, O’Connor’s LinkedIn page also reflects that he has moved on to something new. He will continue as a franchise creative director (of something) while “creating rich, story-driven entertainment experiences across multiple media.”
Microsoft’s message is simple, but the departure of Frank O’Connor is anything but. Earlier this month, we learned that another veteran Halo creative, Joseph Staten, had departed Microsoft entirely, with an update arriving today that he has officially moved on to lead a new AAA project at Netflix Games. Both Staten and O’Connor’s exits follow mass layoffs at Microsoft, which affected around 10,000 jobs in January.
Microsoft has had a rough start to 2023, but Halo’s problems go back a few years. The series’s latest entry, Halo Infinite, had a notoriously troubled development and was hit with numerous delays. Although it has received a few substantial post-launch updates, the project’s roadmap has left many players underwhelmed as they looked forward to what’s next. Additionally, in September 2022, 343 studio head Bonnie Ross revealed that she was leaving the studio due to a “family medical issue.”
Though Microsoft is undergoing a deep internal restructuring, it’s clear that Halo games will continue to release. With so many pivotal members of the team leaving, however, the franchise will almost certainly look very different moving forward. Stay tuned for updates on how 343 plans to push forward.