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Microsoft Entertainment Games

Microsoft To Close Halo Wars Studio 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the pack-a-bag dept.
Shacknews reports that Ensemble Studios, developer of the Age of Empires series, will be shut down by Microsoft Game Studios (MGS) as soon as the upcoming Halo Wars title is complete. Microsoft execs said parts the team would continue to work with MGS. Halo Wars is scheduled for early 2009, and Eurogamer took a look at the Halo-styled RTS game last month.
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Microsoft To Close Halo Wars Studio

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  • Mod submitter troll (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_eX9 (800448) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:35PM (#24951933) Homepage
    Ensemble is not "the Halo Wars Studio." To call them that is an insult to their reputation.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft was just purging its useless-eaters.
      We have ways for making people like you disappear also. [youtube.com]

    • by PachmanP (881352)
      I agree. Who cares that "the Halo Wars Studio" is closing? Now tell me that the Age of Empires studio is closing and that is big news and very sad at that! Is anyone going out to create a newer better game studio?
    • by Cheapy (809643)

      I was about to say something along those lines too. Even though HW looks fairly fun, Ensemble will always be remembered to me and a lot of my friends as Age of Empires.

  • I hear they are breaking off to make Age of Ensemble.
    • by nog_lorp (896553) *

      They are going to get one last chance after Halo Wars. And they are going to call it "Final Fantasy" because it may be their last game ever.

      • Oh gods... Then 20 years from now, we'll be dealing with Androgynous spartans with squeaky voices and planet-killer size guns...

  • Halo Wars? (Score:4, Funny)

    by SplinterOfChaos (1330441) <hakusa@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:50PM (#24952205)
    How could I not have heard of this? This has to be a joke. You can stick ANY genre on Halo and it'll probably sell?

    Halo Dating Sim! (You know you want to.)
  • by tambo (310170) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:52PM (#24952247)
    Wow. Just wow.

    What manager thought it would be a good idea to announce, before the product shipped, that -

    1. the product will essentially have no support beyond v1.0;
    2. any coding glitches or problems will probably never come back to haunt any of the developers; and
    3. some of the developers will be fired as soon as the product ships?

    Doesn't this pretty much guarantee that Halo Wars will be late (delayed by people who don't want to lose their jobs), full of glitches (since devs don't have to worry about the ramifications), and avoided by customers (who will know that the product is DOA?)

    I thought this gaffe was only a software engineering myth. I'm gonna have to bookmark this post for future reference :) ...

    - David Stein

    • by Sparton (1358159) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:09PM (#24952529)

      Doesn't this pretty much guarantee that Halo Wars will be late (delayed by people who don't want to lose their jobs), full of glitches (since devs don't have to worry about the ramifications), and avoided by customers (who will know that the product is DOA?)

      Not quite. From TFA:

      Microsoft called the planned closure a "fiscally-rooted" decision, while noting that a core Ensemble team will go on to form a new studio to provide support for Halo Wars and work on fresh projects.

      Sounds more like Microsoft just wanted an excuse to get rid of everyone but the best and start anew.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As a software developer, I have a vested interest in the future of the software along with my employer's future, and take pride in the software I develop, knowing that I can expand and improve it.

        Knowing that I will have to technically support the software that I am working on, I put all my effort into designing and implementing it with well-structured, documented code, easy to understand error logs and nice safety catches in case of critical errors.

        These measures are taken so as to make my own life easier

      • by Gr8Apes (679165)

        Wow, bummer. Guess the penthouse offices and separate elevator were getting too pricey? I'd like to know how many of the true "core" ensemble employees they keep, and how many actually go off to a new venture.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by deniable (76198)

        'a "fiscally-rooted" decision' has a different meaning in Oz.

      • by Minwee (522556)

        Sounds more like Microsoft just wanted an excuse to get rid of everyone but the best and start anew.

        Just think of it as a morale building exercise, and try not to consider that more than half of you will have pink slips waiting on your desks when this meeting is over.

      • by Taulin (569009)
        It still leaves an uneasy feeling for everyone involved in the making of the game. However, if you are in the gaming business as an employee, you should accept it as a salary paid contract job since it is heavily project based. While it is common sense, and a common practice, to strip teams after a game is done now-a-days, they were still dumb to announce it.
    • You just know a product is doomed when it's the last thing those people will ever make, right? Even so, won't the job of the publisher to be to whip the employees into shape, needless of how cruel this is? And might MS provide some sort of continued support, a feature which is pretty dam standard anymore?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      RTFA

      From article:

      "Following the closure, the Ensemble leadership team will form a new entity and have agreed to partner with Microsoft to develop future products and provide support for Halo Wars post launch."

      The article has additional information about the restructuring of the team.

    • by Higaran (835598)
      It shouldn't glitch that much, it is only going to be a 360 game, from what it looks like it's proably not even that taxing on the 360 cpu/gpu wise. The biggest buyss will be the mp cheating/balancing issues, and they will release at least one patch for that.
    • MS Killing Off Xbox? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is hard to believe that Microsoft is doing anything other than killing off the Xbox one piece at a time.

      They let their one big developer Bungie leave to go work on multiplatform titles.
      The let Bizzare and Bioware leave exclusive Xbox development.
      They've shutdown other minor firstparty exclusive Xbox developers over the past year or two.
      Tecmo appears to be going full multiplatform now that Itagaki is gone.

      That leaves Microsoft with just Rare, Lionhead, and Turn 10. Maybe one more.

      Compare that to Nintendo

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by xhrit (915936)
        >Perhaps Microsoft has finally decided they need to stop wasting their time in the console market and will start to turn their attention back to making keyboards and mice.

        Fixed that for you.
        • thing the "HexBox"/"HexedBox"...

        • I used to think Microsoft made fantastic mice.

          But then I got a mouse that exhibited all the classic Windows "features."

          When I first got my Microsoft Habu, it worked great. It was fast, accurate and it was reliable.

          Then something happened. It started getting less reliable and randomly disconnecting/connecting to the computer. Which is extremely annoying when you're playing a team-based FPS like Quake Wars.

          And finally, it just stopped working.. completely.

          After that I bought a Logitech G9, very nice mouse and

          • Oh and I should point out... the issue is common with the Habu mice. If you google it, you'll find quite a few posts on the subject.

      • by dhavleak (912889) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @06:15PM (#24953667)

        Dude, your post makes no sense. Why would MS want to stunt the xbox?

        They let their one big developer Bungie leave to go work on multiplatform titles.

        Bungie wanted to leave. MS allowed them to, kept the rights to Halo, and first right of refusal to Bungee games. It's better this way (for the xbox) -- Bungie remains a happy studio, and they make games for the xbox. The other way around, Bungie employees get pissed and leave, and MS is left with the skeleton.

        The let Bizzare and Bioware leave exclusive Xbox development.

        They don't get to choose this. Blizzard and Bioware can do whatever they want. MS and Sony usually pay huge sums of money for exclusive titles (on a per-title basis). More and more, they're both deciding it isn't worth it. Everybody wins this way of course -- 'cos more games are available on both platforms. If fact, MS is probably wagering that the Xbox live experience is the differentiator that makes people choose to buy non-exclusive titles on an xbox instead of a ps3. Either way, they've done the math and decided most exclusives aren't worth the price. They still do have exclusive titles when they are important enough (for example, Gears of War II).

        They've shutdown other minor firstparty exclusive Xbox developers over the past year or two.

        Sources? Anything??

        Tecmo appears to be going full multiplatform now that Itagaki is gone.

        Repeat after me: MS does not control independant studios, and this is Good Thing anyway.

        That leaves Microsoft with just Rare, Lionhead, and Turn 10. Maybe one more. Compare that to Nintendo who has 10 first party studios. And even worse to Sony who now has 20 or so first party studios.

        What's the point of having 20 first party studios if you don't even have 20 total games that are worth playing? I just don't understand your point. Are you trying to say there's a dearts of good titles for the Xbox? I hope you realize how ridiculous that sounds.

        It should be obvious why Microsoft has had virtually nothing new to show at game conferences over the past year. Getting 360 ports of PC games isn't going to do anything in the console market - especially now that even mid range PC graphics are far beyond 360 game levels.

        ??

        Remember that the xbox GPU is more powerful than the PS3 CPU. See here for details [ign.com]. It's normal for GPUs in the market to outstrip console GPU performance mid-way through the life of a console. You're trying to make some convoluted argument to support your statement about MS trying to kill the 360, but you're not making much sense.

        btw: The new xbox dashboard, netflix "watch it now", gears of war II. Nothing new to show at game conferences over the past year?? There's more, but your claim isn't worth responding to.

        Perhaps Microsoft has finally decided they need to stop wasting their time in the console market and will start to turn their attention back to PC gaming.

        Do you actually beleive what you just wrote? Look, at this point, I assume you're a PS3 fanboi. That's fine. Why can't you just enjoy your PS3 without dissing the 360? Think about it -- without stiff competition from the xbox, the PS3 itself wouldn't be as awesome as it is. And remember that MS's efforts have brought us the Halo series, GoW, Xbox live. By what yardstick do you think they are wasting their time??

        • > They don't get to choose this. Blizzard and Bioware can do whatever they wan

          Bizzare Creations, NOT Blizzard.

          • by dhavleak (912889)
            My bad - Bizarre Creations. Of course, the point still stands. Bizarre is owned by Activision. The only thing MS or Sony can do to get exclusive titles from them is to either throw cash at them, or produce the title themselves (like how MS is the producer for GoW and EA Games is the developer). In general, it costs money to get exclusive titles and depending on what's coming down the pipeline, sometimes it just might not be worth it..
        • by xhrit (915936)
          More like, MS is wagering that the Xbox live experience makes people choose to pay for something they get for free on the ps3.
    • Maybe it was the manager who found out the programmers were sleeping with his wife?

    • by UltraAyla (828879)

      From the shacknews article above:

      Microsoft called the planned closure a "fiscally-rooted" decision, while noting that a core Ensemble team will go on to form a new studio to provide support for Halo Wars and work on fresh projects.

      Though not all employees will be transferred to the new studio, Microsoft plans to find other jobs for as many workers as possible.

      They have a full release from Microsoft there too. I thought your post made good points until I read that so you might like that info too.

    • Well, yes and no.

      Yes: what you say is probably true in effect.

      No: They claim to retain most of the personell and promise ongoing support for products (in the actual M$ statement)

      from the article: "Microsoft has decided to close Ensemble Studios following the completion of Halo Wars. After the closure, the Ensemble leadership team will form a new studio and has agreed to provide ongoing support for Halo Wars as well as work on other projects with Microsoft Game Studios. "

      I realize the trustworthin
    • Wow. Just wow.

      What manager thought it would be a good idea to announce, before the product shipped, that -

      1. the product will essentially have no support beyond v1.0;

      You don't know that, maybe they're planning on open sourcing it after release..... Oh, right. Microsoft. Nevermind, the game will suck.

    • by Reapy (688651)

      Either way, if I was working there, if they didn't guarantee me a continued job, in writing, I'd be sending my resume out to other companies, and pretty much half assing any work I did on halo wars. I mean, you would be insane not to, right?

  • Suggestion (Score:3, Funny)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:29PM (#24952839) Homepage

    They need to make a game actually called Red Ring [today.com], to follow up their earlier hit Blue Screen [uncyclopedia.org].

  • We're closing the studio as soon as this game is done. Try to reach the deadline please.

    Executive logic continues to elude me.

  • The bigger news is the status of Microsoft Game Studios. 1st party titles make the console, more or less. Online is pretty important, sure, and the aesthetics have something to do with it, I guess, but gamers aren't (complete) idiots. That's right, we're devoted fanboys. So let's be clear - nothing makes a console more attractive than a strong, non-multiplatform game. Like MGS? Sony has a console they'd like to sell you. Halo fan? Microsoft looks pretty nice, eh?

    Well, the problem with this news isn't that E

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dutch Gun (899105)

      You're correct. MS just doesn't have the corporate mentality to make games. I know some pretty bright and creative people in Microsoft's internal game division that have long since fled. I've had dealings with them as a 3rd party studio. They can be a great publisher (you really just need a lot of money for that, and a willingness to go the distance to make a great product), so long as they stay far, far away from any sort of decision making about the game design itself. But unless the studio has quite

  • Bad title on /. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by atari2600 (545988)

    Microsoft now says that it will shut down developer Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires) following the end of work on the company's upcoming RTS Halo Wars.

    People use AoE as a generic term but there were several releases of which I loved AoE, AoE2: The Rise of Kings and Age of Mythology. AoM was one of the best selling RTSes for a good time (and so were the AoE* titles).

    It's a shame that the staff is mostly being let go. Who's next? Bungie?

  • Studios that have recently left Microsoft for one reason or another in the last 12 months:

    FASA (Shadowrun, Crimson Skies, Mech Warrior, Mech Commander)
    Bungie (H A L O, Marathon)
    Ensemble (Halo Wars, Age of Empires, Age of Mythology)
    Hired Gun (Halo 2 Vista)

    Any others?

  • Sounds to me more that they are shutting down typical PC gaming like some forms of RTS, and aiming for a more consoleable kind of games.

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