Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First Jerry, Now Ensemble Studios

Microsoft is on an Axe-ing spree! I'm sure by now you have seen the "awesome" commercials featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld and probably have also heard how all of a sudden they're taking their marketing campaign in a new direction. What you may not have heard yet is that Microsoft is pulling the plug on Ensemble Studios -- the guys who brought you the Age of Empires series, and more recently, Halo Wars. In fact, they were informed that as soon as they've finished Halo Wars, they're done. Since Ensemble Studios had no real warning, this came as a complete surprise to them (as you can imagine) since their games have always sold well. I'm not really sure what Microsoft was thinking on this one. They're still in control of a few other game developers, but for some reason chose the one that costs them the most to keep running, but produces the best games. Perhaps the Age of Empires series wasn't as profitable as I think it was? Maybe they're considering phasing out game development and will end up focusing more on the Xbox? Or maybe they just needed that money to pad their bottom line somewhere else? I was glad to see that someone from Ensemble has already planned to start their own independent studio because I never really got into the Halo stuff... but the Age of Empires series is classic -- Age of Mythology is probably my second favorite RTS of all time -- behind StarCraft of course. For more info, you can check out this article.

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