Rumor: Halo Wars Dev Ensemble Shutting Down, Non-essential Employees Already Axed (Updated)

By Nick Breckon, Sep 09, 2008 1:52pm PDT Update: Microsoft has confirmed its plans to close Ensemble.

Original Story: Shacknews has learned via multiple independent reports that developer Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires) will shut down operation following the release of its upcoming title Halo Wars.

According to sources, employees not associated with Halo Wars have been laid off today. Those attached to Halo Wars have been offered incentives to stay on the project until completion.

Halo Wars, an RTS based on the Halo franchise, was announced in September of 2006. The Xbox 360 title is currently slated for release sometime in the first half of 2009.

Ensemble Studios was founded in 1995. The Microsoft-owned company is best known for the Age of Empires series of RTS games.

Shacknews has contacted both Microsoft and Ensemble for comment, but has not yet received a reply.

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36 Threads* | 97 Comments

  • This game looks like a whole pile of meh anyway. It was announced 3 years ago which means it was probably under development for 4 or 5. With Starcraft 2 (proven, awesome gameplay) and Dawn of War 2 (innovation) on the way there won't be any time for Halo Wars and its seemingly conventional, dated, and worn out approach to the RTS genre. I think it was a weak, uninspired concept to begin with and unless they've got major feature surprises in store for us this title will debut with something above a modest thud and be quickly passed over.

    The Halo franchise is past its peak anyway. Master Chief is on a downwards slope. It's time for something new to take its place. All these Halo spinoffs that are in the works are more likely to cheapen the brand than envigour it.

  • One of my friends has had a rotten year:
    * He was working QA at Visual Concepts when they shut down internal QA.
    * He was working at Lucasarts when they shut down internal development.
    * He was three weeks into working at Flagship's subsidiary Ping0 when Flagship closed.

    He's lost his job three times this year, each a mass firing. It sucks, because he's a damn clever tech-head and none of it's been his fault. Anyone in the Bay Area want to hire an excellent QA/IT guy?

    Makes me quite grateful for my company keeping me around for five years, and even I've had a layoff scare in that time. If I didn't love this industry, I sure wouldn't be thinking about trying to support a family with it in the near future.