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Why Ensemble and Pandemic Closed

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With both Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires, Halo Wars) and Pandemic Studios (Mercenaries, The Saboteur) having shut down across the past year, veterans of both took the stage at Game Developers Conference 2010 to explain what went wrong.

Ensemble's Halo Wars and Pandemic's The Saboteur

"The reality is that every single game we shipped took twice as long as we said it was going to take, and cost twice as much to make," said Ensemble's Paul Bettner, as relayed by Eurogamer. "We were simply too expensive."

He added that "everyone was a workaholic" at Ensemble, noting "as an employee, and later as a manager, I didn't take a stand. I just kept hoping for that next high."

It's an industry-wide problem, Bettner explained. "This is a horrible vicious cycle. We burn out all our best people. We destroy these precious artists, we wreck their families and we sacrifice their youth. So they leave, and they take all their experience with them."

Former Pandemic employee Carey Chico pointed to similar issues, as the now-defunct studio also had problems hitting milestones on time and within the budget.

"We got our own money," he explained. "That was probably the beginning of the fall...When you have your own money, what happens is that you have to maintain your own accountability internally, and if you don't have that, you just f**k everything up."

From The Chatty

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    March 15, 2010 10:25 AM

    In an industry so full of chest puffing, honesty like this is always so refreshing.

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      March 15, 2010 10:30 AM

      refreshing, and kind of depressing =\

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        March 15, 2010 10:35 AM

        very depressing. years ago i wanted to get into game design and i'm really glad i never took that path.

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          March 15, 2010 10:36 AM

          It's still worth it :/

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            March 15, 2010 10:46 AM

            I think Indie game development today is where the really exciting stuff is happening, honestly.