Microsoft has cancelled two projects including its recently launched flight simulator, following layoffs at its Vancouver studio. Released in February, Microsoft Flight is a free-to-play adaptation of the company's popular Flight Simulator franchise, which was axed in 2009 with the closing of ACES Studios.
While previous MSFS entries focused on delivering a hardcore sim experience, Microsoft Flight tried making the genre more palatable to casual players. The game offers a few planes and Hawaiian islands to explore, while new aircraft, locales and in-game goals are available as downloadable content.
MS Flight and its DLC will continue to be available as is, but nothing new will be created. Assuming it hasn't made (and won't make) the company much money, it seems like an opportunity to score points with PC gamers by opening the software to community-made content, but we wouldn't count on it.
Project Columbia has also been cut. First announced last year, the initiative aimed to let kids interact with TV shows using the Kinect, with partnerships including Sesame Street and National Geographic.
Microsoft didn't say how many people are affected, but sources report that all 35 employees at its location on 840 Cambie Street in Vancouver have been laid off. The company said its decision boils down to "portfolio management."
"Microsoft Studios is always evaluating its portfolio of products to determine what is best for gamers, families and the company, and this decision was the result of the natural ebb and flow of our portfolio management. Many factors were considered in the difficult decision to stop development on "Microsoft Flight" and "Project Columbia," but we feel it will help us better align with our long-term goals and development plans."
Interestingly, last week, Capcom also laid off 20 workers in Vancouver and Rockstar recently closed its Vancouver studio, though it offered employees positions at other locations, including its Toronto office.