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Microsoft: Ensemble Closure "Right Thing for Our Business"

Following yesterday's news that Halo Wars and Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios would close, publisher Microsoft Game Studios has come forth to defend the decision.

The decision to close the studio was "the right thing for our business at this time," wrote Microsoft Game Studios head Phil Spencer in an internal email obtained by GamesIndustry.

Despite Ensemble's closure marking the third departure from the Microsoft game development stable in a year, Spencer reaffirmed the studio's committment to game development: "This action notwithstanding, I want to emphasize that the overall investment Microsoft is making in videogame development is not diminished, and we will continue to bring in talent to work on titles and franchises where we'll see the most [return on investment]."

In Spencer's email to Microsoft staff, he made a similar committment to the employees who worked at Ensemble. "We hope to integrate much of this creative talent into [Microsoft Games Studios] or the broader [Interactive Entertainment Business] team, where we have relevant openings," he wrote.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 10, 2008 8:05 AM

    If closing Ensemble Studios is "the right thing for our business at this time" then PC Gaming must not be in Microsoft's business plans.

    Another Age of Empires game would have been a hit on the PC, especially after Stracraft 2 is released and everyone wants an RTS fix.

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      September 10, 2008 8:09 AM

      Apparently AoEIII sold 2 MILLION units. Hard to believe there is not a place for a company like that.

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      September 10, 2008 8:16 AM

      After SC2 comes out i can't see me wanting another RTS fix for at least 5 the new one better come out before haha.

      I personally really disliked age of empires i just couldn't get into it.

      Since they closed the studio does that mean there will be no patches/updates once the game is finished? By the sounds of it, once the game is done, everyone is done.

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        September 10, 2008 8:42 AM

        sc2 looks boooring... bring on relic's next offering!

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          September 10, 2008 9:48 AM


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            September 10, 2008 11:55 AM

            I have no interest in SC2 outside of the story. The gameplay looks to be a repeat of itself which was boring after playing it to death 8 or 9 years ago. I love the added depth that terrain / cover offers units now in CoH and to be seen in DoW2. Otherwise I see SC2 as cleaner, and properly polished CnC3 (something I did not pickup).

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        September 10, 2008 8:46 AM

        personally, I want Dawn of War 2 hard.

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        September 10, 2008 9:12 AM

        SC2 should last me 8 years, I am also a fan of AOE series, but I hated AOE3

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      September 10, 2008 9:28 AM

      Mentioning Starcraft 2 brings up an interesting point actually. Perhaps the reason they're closing down the very RTS-centric Ensemble Studios is because of the imminent release of Starcraft 2. Between SC2 and DoW2, there just isn't going to be all the room for another RTS.

      Food for thought.

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        September 10, 2008 9:51 AM

        Of course there will be room, not everyone is in to playing with stupid Orcs and sci-fi crap.

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          September 10, 2008 10:11 AM

          Yeah, that's why I made the comment. A new Age of Empires would have been a quality game with set in a completely different world. I think a lot of people would play both. 5 or 10 years ago there seemed to be a few major RTS games that came out each year.

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            September 10, 2008 11:34 AM

            command and conquer + blizzard (sc or wc)+ maybe a few others (i only really followed the first 2)

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              September 10, 2008 11:59 AM

              And everything else fell to the wayside. You have three RTS power houses now - EA (remains of Westwood still working on CnC), Blizzard, and Relic. Stainless Steel (Empire Earth) disappeared, Gas Powered Games is faltering after SC, and things don't look great for Demigod IMO... RTS is a niche genre and you really need to have your shit together in order to break out and make a name for yourself.

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