This week the bell tolled for Ensemble Studios
, after Microsoft announced that they would be shutting the studio down
in the near future. Following the release of Halo Wars, Ensemble Studios will be shut down, with some of the talent being moved to other projects and others just getting the shaft. The 13-year old game studio is apparently being cut because it doesn't match up with Microsoft's “long-term” strategies.
If you were ever a fan of the Age of Empires series, you probably recognize Ensemble as the talent behind it. They were brought in for the development of Halo Wars, which still has a lot of development ahead of it. Microsoft has already let much of the Ensemble staff go, but the core development team will remain to finish the job.
This is not an uncommon sight. Large publishers like EA and Microsoft have run down or close numerous game studios after acquiring them. The memo detailing their reasons behind shutting Ensemble down was apparently leaked, but the gist of it was that Microsoft isn't planning on leaving the gaming market. As a somewhat humorous side note, Ensemble still has job postings