Another weird wrinkle in the Halo Infinite development cycle has come up, as the project has lost another lead developer, this time in the form of Chris Lee, the now former studio head on the sixth mainline Halo game that was meant to come out alongside the Xbox Series X/S next month.
News of Lee’s departure came out of a report from Bloomberg, where Lee and Microsoft both confirmed his departure from the game’s production.
“I have stepped back from Infinite and I am looking at future opportunities,” Lee told Bloomberg. “I believe in the team and am confident they will deliver a great game and now is a good time for me to step away.”
Interestingly enough, Lee is apparently still working at Microsoft in some form, but the company’s statement to Bloomberg didn’t specify in what capacity. Whether he’s moving on to a different studio, a different project within developer 343 Industries, or just a completely different role within the company is unknown at this time.
“Chris Lee remains a Microsoft employee and while he has stepped back from Halo: Infinite right now, we appreciate all he has done for the project to date,” Microsoft told Bloomberg in a statement.
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This news comes a few months after Halo Infinite was delayed into 2021, meaning it would miss the Xbox Series X/S’ launch on November 10. Microsoft and 343 Industries had talks about releasing the game in pieces, specifically splitting up the campaign and the free-to-play multiplayer into two separate products, but ultimately decided to keep the whole thing together so the series could begin its next-generation life on the right note. Following the delay, Halo Infinite started seeing personnel changes bringing into question just how much later into 2021 the shooter was being pushed. Lee’s departure could mean one of several things, but shifts in leadership for a game that would have been out in two weeks doesn’t paint the best picture of how things are going. Ultimately, it might mean nothing, but the game has lost several senior members during its development, including creative director Tim Longo and executive producer Mary Olson last year. However, when news of their departure started to spread online, 343 employees responded saying there was “no creative dilemma inside the studio, and there’s no writing on the walls.”
Perhaps we’ll get a sense of where the game is at in the coming weeks, as I would be surprised if Microsoft doesn’t still tout out Halo Infinite as it leads up to the launch of the Xbox Series X/S. Despite the game being delayed, Microsoft couldn’t delay several of the game’s promotional campaigns, including Snapchat filters and Monster Energy Drink deals. So even if the game isn’t out, the ghost of its presence can still be felt walking down the drink aisle of your local Walmart.