Less than five months after Microsoft Flight launched, Microsoft Studios has halted development on the free-to-play fly 'em up at its Vancouver studio. It's also canned the studio's Kinect interactive storybook Project Columbia. With these two projects gone, MS has laid off a fair few people in Vancouver.
We never got to see exactly what Project Columbia was. It was announced in October 2011 as some sort of interactive storybook, designed with the Sesame Workshop Curriculum Team.
A mysterious unannounced space shooter is said to still be in development at the Vancouver studio, though. According to whispers heard by Internet rumour-hound 'superannuation,' it's a new franchise intended to be as big as Halo or Gears of War, with Crysis 2 lead designer Sten Huebler working on it. It's said to have started as a Kinect game but is now targeting the next Xbox. So They say, anyway.
The decision to shut Flight and Columbia down and lay off staff was "the result of the natural ebb and flow of our portfolio management," MS told Kotaku. "Many factors were considered in the difficult decision to stop development on 'Microsoft Flight' and 'Project Columbia,' but we feel it will help us better align with our long-term goals and development plans."
Microsoft Flight was eagerly awaited by fans when it was announced in 2010, the first flight sim from Microsoft since 2006, but it turned out to be far less than many had hoped for. It launched as an arcade-y free-to-play game with a small selection of planes and only a tiny corner of the world to explore, selling extra content as DLC.
MS Flight will still be online and up for download, and Microsoft says that it "will continue to support the community", but don't expect anything exciting.