Microsoft recently announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees, and Xbox Game Studios weren’t spared. Bethesda, 343 Industries, and Gears of War developer The Coalition all had to downsize to varying degrees. Now we’re finding out that the layoffs at The Coalition resulted in two unannounced projects being cancelled.
During today’s Game Mess Mornings broadcast, industry insider Jeff Grubb confirmed that The Coalition cancelled two unannounced games, with one intended to train studio staff on Unreal Engine 5. However, that game was considered expendable as the studio had already worked with Unreal 5 on The Matrix Awakens.
"It does seem like they feel like 'well, we are up to speed because we worked on [The Matrix Awakens],' and so they have cancelled that smaller project as well as another project," reported Grubb. "So there's been two games cancelled there. This was all reflected in the layoffs that happened at Microsoft that did hit The Coalition a little bit, but the studio is now going to move on fully to Gears 6."
We know very little about the cancelled projects, although there is some speculation that it was related to The Coalition's Unreal Engine 5 demo, Alpha Point, which was revealed in July 2021. That demo primarily showcased the incredible texture and lighting effects possible in UE5 through a series of arid ruins. The other project might have been a Gears of War remaster, but now we may never know.
Grubb noted that The Coalition has always been the Gears of War studio, so it's hardly surprising that Gears 6 is on its way. Things are looking even worse at sister studio 343 Industries, which was rumored to be hit the hardest in the recent Microsoft layoffs. Sources speaking to IGN estimate that up to a quarter of 343's staff was laid off, which has fans concerned for the future of the Halo franchise. There were even rumors that 343 would move to a publisher role and hand over development to other studios.
In response to these rumors, Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed that 343 will remain the "heart and soul" of Halo and is "critically important" to the franchise's future success.
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