GameSpot reports a confirmation that Microsoft Game Studios is planning on closing Ensemble Studios after completion of development of the console RTS game Halo Wars (story). The statement is complementary of the studio, saying the closure does not reflect on the quality of their work, going on to explain this was about the bottom line: "This was a fiscally rooted decision that keeps MGS on its growth path. While the decision to dissolve Ensemble was not an easy one, Microsoft is working to place as many Ensemble employees who do not move to the newly formed studio into open positions within Microsoft as possible." The also say the "leadership team" will form a new studio that will support Halo and "work on other MGS projects." Update: GamesIndustry.biz has what is purported to be an internal email from Microsoft Game Studios boss Phil Spencer to the MGS staff explaining the move, and offering reassurances that in spite of whittling down to two internal studios (Lionhead and Rare), Microsoft is still committed to first-party game development. On the other hand, WildTangent CEO Alex St John made a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, the former MS evangelist and current MS naysayer says that this represents Microsoft Game Studios entering a "cost recovery phase" where they will be concentrating less on first-party development in an attempt to become profitable, saying Sony is in a similar mode.
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