The decision to close Halo Wars
developer Ensemble Studios is "the right thing for our business at this time," says Microsoft Game Studios head Phil Spencer.
GamesIndustry.biz cites an internal Microsoft email it says it received via leak
, in which Spencer also says he'd like to be able to hire departing Ensemble employees elsewhere within MGS or the broader Interactive Entertainment Business division at Microsoft.
In a statement to Gamasutra yesterday, Microsoft also confirmed
that Ensemble leadership would be forming its own independent studio after the closure, and will provide support for Halo Wars
and other MGS projects.
"This was a fiscally-rooted decision that keeps MGS on its growth path," said the statement yesterday, which also expressed a desire similar to Spencer's to place Ensemble employees who don't join the new studio.
The Ensemble closure marks the third studio in about a year that MGS has lost, after closing Shadowrun developer FASA
last September, and splitting with Halo creator Bungie
a month later, though the latter still retains its publishing agreement with MGS.
Despite this, both the Spencer mail and Microsoft's official statement stress that the Ensemble closure doesn't represent a retreat on Microsoft's part from investment in game development.
Writes Spencer, "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]."
"As to our overall strategy at MGS, it remains the same," concurred yesterday's statement. "We are committed to growing MGS with world-class talent both internally and with our external partners around the globe. We have recently added some well-known developers to our team and will continue growing the team."
"We're particularly excited about the titles we have in the pipeline and continue to evaluate additional opportunities to bring incredible games to life with the industry's best. Our investment in games has never been greater than it is today."