Just a few days ago, Joseph Staten, the creative director for Microsoft's 2021 first-person shooter Halo Infinite and a major behind-the-scenes force for the entire Halo franchise since its release, announced his departure from Microsoft. Now it looks like another important member of the Halo team has also decided to leave Microsoft, although more quietly.
Windows Central noted that the LinkedIn page of Frank O'Connor now shows that his job at Microsoft, which began in December 2003, now has an April 2023 end date. It also shows a new listing of "Franchise Creative Director" for something that's not currently named. O'Connor has not updated his social media with any departure announcement, nor has Microsoft commented on if he has indeed left the company.
If O'Connor has indeed left Microsoft and the Halo franchise behind, it may be the end of an era for that game series. O'Connor previously worked with Halo's original developer Bungie starting in 2004, back when Bungie was still owned by Microsoft. In 2008 he joined Microsoft when Bungie decided it no longer wanted to be owned by the company. He has worked with Halo's developer 343 Industries to lead the many different story and narrative efforts in the multimedia franchise, from novels, comic books, and of course games. His efforts also included working on the Halo TV show on Paramount Plus as an executive producer.
Besides O'Connor (allegedly) and Staten, 343 Industries saw its long-time studio head Bonnie Ross leave Microsoft in September 2022. 343 Industries was also reportedly hit particularly hard by Microsoft's decision to lay off 10,000 employees in early 2023. It will be interesting to see the direction of the flagship Xbox game franchise going forward.