In the realm of PC gaming, there have been few developers with as solid a track record as Ensemble Studios. It’s a sad day for PC gamers then, as Microsoft has confirmed reports that it intends to shut down the developer as soon as its work on Halo Wars is complete.
Despite its legacy of producing some of the very finest strategy games with its Age of Empire and Age of Mythology series, Microsoft decided that it would be financially disadvantageous to continue to operate the wholly-owned Ensemble Studios.
“Microsoft has decided to close Ensemble Studios following the completion of Halo Wars,” the company said in a statement. “This was a fiscally-rooted decision that keeps [Microsoft Games Studios] on its growth path.”
The leadership at Ensemble Studios already have planned to form a new development studio following the closure, but will also continue to support Halo Wars and other Microsoft projects. Microsoft expressed that it still believes in the talent at Ensemble, and said that it “is working to place as many Ensemble employees who do not move to the newly formed studio into open positions within Microsoft as possible.”
Up until Halo Wars, Ensemble Studios’ focus has clearly been on the core PC gamer. It is rather disappointing for the PC crowd, then, that Microsoft not only shut down the developer, but also that its last project be one that may never grace a keyboard and mouse.
As expected, the development team is suffering a blow to its motivation in continuing work on Halo Wars; but according to reports, Microsoft is offering special incentives for employees who choose to see the completion of the project.
“This decision does not reflect at all on Ensembles talent or the quality of Halo Wars,” said Microsoft. “In fact, many people who have had a chance to test drive Halo Wars agree that it is on track to being a fantastic game.”
Halo Wars is expect to ship only on the Xbox 360 sometime during the first half of 2009.
Ensemble Studios was founded in 1995, later acquired by Microsoft in 2001.
Only type of games that will be left on the PC are online server-based games where legit subscription is 100% needed, the rest will die.
The PC community killed themselves; when my grand parents themselves download pirated software, you know something is awfully wrong.
The money for games is now with the big 3; PS3/360/Wii
as for halo wars, i hope it turns into a buggy and uncreative failure.
I bet we're not getting the full story here. Something tells me Ensemble is going away because Microsoft probably wasn't pleased with Halo Wars in its current state. Perhaps they treated it like a PC game and didn't dumb it down for the 360. Now they are hoping that either they can *fix* it and keep the staff from quitting out of anger with a bribe or hoping it simply sells because of the name and making sure it doesn't happen again.
Think about it sure you would be depressed about Ensemble shutting down if you worked there but there's no way in hell would anyone want to leave a big name title like that simply because of that. Its clear that Microsoft is/was doing something that the staff didn't approve of to the point of considering quitting. So what does Microsoft do? Shut them down and shuffle them into other development teams after the game is finished. It's much easier to replace a single upset talented staff member than it is a whole talented team of them at once while on a project.
To claim it's a financial matter is a joke as every single one of their games have sold well... heck "well" is being modest. It's a damn shame and I hope a bunch of them band together and once again become a independent developer.