Is it Futile to Resist Getting Assimilated by Microsoft?

Is it Futile to Resist Getting Assimilated by Microsoft?

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When Bruce Shelly's Ensemble Studios and Jordan Weisman's FASA Interactive helped form the base of Microsoft's internal game studios, they had a secure publisher with incredibly deep pockets. But would joining Microsoft's Collective come at the cost of their identity?

In the mid-90s, Microsoft was known to many as the equivalent of Star Trek's Borg: If they couldn't beat you, they would buy you, and add your technological significance to their own. Resistance was futile. But for small development studios looking for the secure financial backing of a publisher, Microsoft's attempts to move its internal game studio beyond Flight Simulator was a huge opportunity. However, that opportunity might come at a cost, as Jordan Weisman and Bruce Shelly recounted to Russ Pitts in The Escapist's Issue 73:

"We went from 300 people to 1,500 people in about 24 months. And that's a huge amount of growth. Obviously, that was a totally different field, a totally new field, a much more mass-market field. The original premise of the Xbox was sold to senior management that our PC game designers could port over the videogame concepts. It was wrong. They're totally different game design philosophies; the living room versus the den. The interaction models are different. The timing cycles are different. It's a very different model. So it was a real challenge. It put a lot of strain on the organization, as you can imagine."

For Weisman and FASA, Microsoft had snagged them on the basis of their hit PC MechWarrior games - but PC games were not console games, and the culture of PC developers was not the culture that Microsoft was hoping to create for its internal Xbox team. Shelly and Ensemble, on the other hand, would be given no less a title than Halo Wars.

For the full story of how being assimilated into the Microsoft Collective affected these two studios, check out "From Borg to Boss" in Issue 73 of The Escapist.

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Thanks for bringing this out from the archives. It sheds some light on Jordan Weisman's recent comments about Microsoft that some people said was whining without any substance. I guess that it also reads differently now that both well respected studios have now been shut down.

For me, the fall of Ensemble and FASA interactive represents how Microsoft have mismanaged PC gaming this decade in exchange for "chasing their dreams" and losing money hand over fist on their console project.

More Fun To Compute:
Thanks for bringing this out from the archives. It sheds some light on Jordan Weisman's recent comments about Microsoft that some people said was whining without any substance. I guess that it also reads differently now that both well respected studios have now been shut down.

For me, the fall of Ensemble and FASA interactive represents how Microsoft have mismanaged PC gaming this decade in exchange for "chasing their dreams" and losing money hand over fist on their console project.

I could not have put it better.

I loved FASA and Ensemble's work, and it was a shame they went under. They need to understand the fundamental differences between PC gaming and console gaming, or Microsoft will suffer in both fields.

In all fairness, though, FASA did screw up a bit in the past with their copyrights with the Battletech stuff.

Yes i'm thrilled that Catalyst Game Labs is making the newer Battletech products and doing it so well.

More Fun To Compute:
Thanks for bringing this out from the archives. It sheds some light on Jordan Weisman's recent comments about Microsoft that some people said was whining without any substance. I guess that it also reads differently now that both well respected studios have now been shut down.

For me, the fall of Ensemble and FASA interactive represents how Microsoft have mismanaged PC gaming this decade in exchange for "chasing their dreams" and losing money hand over fist on their console project.

I wouldn't say that Microsoft has exactly lost money "hand over fist" with the X-BOX, in fact it brings them in a whole lot of cash. We have to face an unfortunate fact that PC gaming is viewed as something of an elitist way to play, mostly because game reviewers have no shame in saying "I play on my computer, so i'm better than you!" I see it far too often when someone cries "game series X was ruined because it was ported to console Y". I believe there are good console games out there, and the idea of just picking up the controller and having a little mindless fun is good now-and-then. I view computer as a good medium for strategy and FPS games, but I wouldn't suggest a PC for something like a racing game. The one thing I will say the PC outdoes the console in, however, is online gaming, as we're less likely to get some homophobic 13 year old yelling at us. Also, online gaming for pretty much all games that aren't MMORPGs is free.

RE-SIS-TAN-CE IS FU-TI-LE! EX-TER-MI-NATE! EX-TER-MI-NATE!

Sorry,someone had to do that.

LaBambaMan:
I wouldn't say that Microsoft has exactly lost money "hand over fist" with the X-BOX, in fact it brings them in a whole lot of cash.

I would. A lot of money has come in but a staggering amount of money has gone out. Hence, they have made large losses with modest and well publicised profits at times.

We have to face an unfortunate fact that PC gaming is viewed as something of an elitist way to play, mostly because game reviewers have no shame in saying "I play on my computer, so i'm better than you!" I see it far too often when someone cries "game series X was ruined because it was ported to console Y".

So what. The games industry is not some dystopia where games can only be made if they can be enjoyed by everyone. Lots of people can enjoy World of Warcraft and it rakes in cash. Fewer people enjoy EVE online and it rakes in cash as well.

Anyway, XBox fans are the first and loudest to make stupid elitist remarks when it comes to Nintendo.

Kollega:
RE-SIS-TAN-CE IS FU-TI-LE! EX-TER-MI-NATE! EX-TER-MI-NATE!

Sorry,someone had to do that.

It is the Doctor! Exterminate Him! You will be assimilated!

More Fun To Compute:

LaBambaMan:
I wouldn't say that Microsoft has exactly lost money "hand over fist" with the X-BOX, in fact it brings them in a whole lot of cash.

I would. A lot of money has come in but a staggering amount of money has gone out. Hence, they have made large losses with modest and well publicised profits at times.

We have to face an unfortunate fact that PC gaming is viewed as something of an elitist way to play, mostly because game reviewers have no shame in saying "I play on my computer, so i'm better than you!" I see it far too often when someone cries "game series X was ruined because it was ported to console Y".

So what. The games industry is not some dystopia where games can only be made if they can be enjoyed by everyone. Lots of people can enjoy World of Warcraft and it rakes in cash. Fewer people enjoy EVE online and it rakes in cash as well.

Anyway, XBox fans are the first and loudest to make stupid elitist remarks when it comes to Nintendo.

I'm not saying that PC gaming doesn't have it's exclusive deals and such, but ask a casual or "mainstream" gamers and most of the time they'll tell you that PC gamers are elitist....if they're smart enough to know what the word means.

And I think everyone with a current generation console is a bit elitist against Nintendo, except for their whack-job fan boys.

LaBambaMan:
I'm not saying that PC gaming doesn't have it's exclusive deals and such, but ask a casual or "mainstream" gamers and most of the time they'll tell you that PC gamers are elitist....if they're smart enough to know what the word means.

And I think everyone with a current generation console is a bit elitist against Nintendo, except for their whack-job fan boys.

No "deals" are made for games to appear on PC exclusively. It's a totally different world. Games are normally only exclusive because of the costs and technical problems associated with porting games.

What difference does it make what some people think of PC gamers to the PC as a games platform? None at all. It's just the normal typical console wars retardation.

For me, I see this not so much as MS assimilating everything together, but more MS trying to assimilate everything at once, and not having full control. That's why people who own a 360 constantly war with people who have a PC. Jocks versus snobs, you could say. If only they stuck to making PCs and software, we wouldn't have all this crap happening.

And I kinda wish they wouldn't force their regulations and stupid limits on the developers who work for them. As I see it, Microsoft is like a spoiled brat who has to have everything to himself.

I use their OS for my PC, but that's about as far as MS goes in my house.,

Decent enough article (The full thing, not just the forum post), but it fails to acknowledge the fallout of Microsoft's acquisitions. Fasa Interactive's integration into the Microsoft collective sounded a death knell for Fasa Corporation, the original parent company of Fasa Interactive / Fasa Studio. Table-top games that will forever be better than the crap PC/XBox tiles Microsoft published were sacrificed on the altar of video gaming, Battletech being the hardest hit but Shadowrun, Crimson Skies, Earthdawn and Vor: The Maelstrom all ended up casualties of Microsoft's need for exploitable IPs.

Just to ask, what is with all the Star Trek themed articles today?

NoMoreSanity:
Just to ask, what is with all the Star Trek themed articles today?

Its Star Trek week, though I'd ask someone else why. Been to busy to keep a check on why its Star Trek Week.

More Fun To Compute:

Kollega:
RE-SIS-TAN-CE IS FU-TI-LE! EX-TER-MI-NATE! EX-TER-MI-NATE!

It is the Doctor! Exterminate Him! You will be assimilated!

Someone is REALLY mixing up their fanfiction here.

 

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