Microsoft Shuts Down Xbox Entertainment Studios, Xbox Originals

Microsoft Shuts Down Xbox Entertainment Studios, Xbox Originals

Xbox Originals Logo

Microsoft's push to create original television programs exclusively for the Xbox will end, as a part of the major restructuring announced July 17.

As part of the major restructuring announced today, Microsoft will cut about 200 jobs at Xbox Entertainment Studios. The move will close the studio and end Microsoft's Xbox Originals, a series of televisions products exclusively available on the Xbox. Xbox Originals, which debuted in June with the soccer-themed reality show Every Street United, was also developing shows based on the tabletop RPG Deadlands and a much-anticipated Halo series with Steven Spielberg as executive producer.

An internal memo from Phil Spencer, received by The Verge, details the changes at Xbox Entertainment Studios. Original programming already in production, including the gaming documentary series Signal to Noise and the Halo television series will continue as planned, though it's not clear where or how these series will be released. Spencer makes no mention of the Deadlands series, but does state that interactive sports content, such as NFL on Xbox, will continue.

Here's the full memo:

I hope you have had a chance to read today's mails from Satya. I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts on what this means for our team and some of the changes we are making as a result.

In last week's mail outlining some of the steps towards creating the culture and organization to bring our ambitions to life, Satya called out the strategic importance of Xbox as a strong consumer brand, a creative center for gaming and a leader in bold innovation. Every member of Team Xbox should be incredibly proud of the impact and reach your work has within the walls of Microsoft, with our developer community and most importantly, with consumers.

Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for a mobile-first and cloud-first world, and games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world. Success in this category, by growing a robust Xbox business, brings additional value to Microsoft. I have stated this before, but for Xbox to be successful, we must remain committed to being a consumer-driven organization with the mission of meeting the high expectations of a passionate fan base, to create the best games and to drive technical innovation.

As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organization's mission, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that, in the coming months, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments from the entire team in XES. They have built an impressive slate of original programming and pioneered interactive entertainment on Xbox, such as the innovative reality series 'Every Street United' that succeeded in uniting audiences around the globe during the recent World Cup. I am pleased that Nancy, Jordan and members of the XES team remain committed to new, original programming already in production like the upcoming documentary series 'Signal to Noise' whose first installment takes on the rise and fall of gaming icon Atari and of course, the upcoming game franchise series 'Halo: Nightfall,' and the 'Halo' Television series which will continue as planned with 343 Industries. Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like 'NFL on Xbox,' and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates. Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organizational change in any way and remain an important component of our Xbox strategy.

Change is never easy, but I believe the changes announced today help us better align with our long-term goals. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us to define what the next generation of gaming looks like for the growing Xbox community. I have a great deal of confidence in this team and know that with clarity of focus on our mission and our customers we can accomplish great things together. We already have.

Thank you again for all you do for Xbox.

Phil

Source: Re/code via The Verge

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Can't say I'm shocked.

Just wasn't any synergy there. Why produce content that's heavily promotional in nature and they only make it available to people who own an Xbox and subscribe to Live? Was any of this content really going to sell Xboxes or Live subscriptions? I get that Netflix has original content, but you're not Netflix. You're not even close to that yet. You need to be *way* more ubiquitous before trying that.

Huh...didn't know you could back up a truck at Warp 3...
Though, I do have to say, I am a tad bit grumpy. I had a mild interest in what they were gonna do with the Deadlands series...

Does anyon else think someone somewhere in Microsoft has a list entitled The shit Don did that I now have to undo?

It does seem that as time passes Xbox are steadily and systematically binning every 'feature' old floppy hair was so enthused about at the Xbone reveal.

So much for TV, TV and TV...

fix-the-spade:
Does anyon else think someone somewhere in Microsoft has a list entitled The shit Don did that I now have to undo?

I feel bad for Phil Spencer because of all the shit that Don Mattrick piled up for the guy. He's been on damage control since day one, and I have to commend him for doing so well for turning a lot of things around. Still has work to go, but it's better than nothing. :P
Imagine if Jack Tretton had done what Mattrick had done before resigning from his position.

So that email was supposed to be internal only, right? The parts where he waffles on about all of the shows they are making (or used to be) and his use of 'innovation' sounds weirdly like a press release. Surely the people at the studio already know about the shows they make. Also this bit sounds like it was copied and pasted from something Nadella said:

Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for a mobile-first and cloud-first world, and games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world.

Maybe he was just hoping to bury what is undoubtedly bad news for some people underneath a load of nothing.

At least they still have sports...

CriticalMiss:
So that email was supposed to be internal only, right? The parts where he waffles on about all of the shows they are making (or used to be) and his use of 'innovation' sounds weirdly like a press release.

Even if it was internal only, he must have realized the letter would be leaked to the press. After all, there were at least 200 people with every reason to leak it. There's no way communications like these stay secret these days.

[edit] I suppose this means the Blake's 7 remake won't get made. Pity!

man, microsoft has backpedaled so much they could win the tour de france going backwards

CriticalMiss:
So that email was supposed to be internal only, right? The parts where he waffles on about all of the shows they are making (or used to be) and his use of 'innovation' sounds weirdly like a press release. Surely the people at the studio already know about the shows they make. Also this bit sounds like it was copied and pasted from something Nadella said:

Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for a mobile-first and cloud-first world, and games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world.

Maybe he was just hoping to bury what is undoubtedly bad news for some people underneath a load of nothing.

At least they still have sports...

I was wondering about that quote as well, that doesn't really make much sense and seems like the complete opposite of what Microsoft and the Xbox is/was. Well I know they're moving towards 'cloud' computing, and any giant tech company needs to have their hands in the mobile industry these days, but he's making it sound like they want the Xbox to be a mobile platform or something? And what about the Desktop?

Basically I have no idea what he's trying to say there!

I kind of want to laugh at this, but given that quite a lot of people are suddenly going to be out of a job, it wouldn't be appropriate. And frankly, I truly feel sorry for those who're getting the ax.

On a hilariously coincidental side note:
As I was reading the news post about Microsoft prepping to lay off 18,000 people, I overheard an advert on someone's TV for DeVry, who was offering job placement within Microsoft.

Ha! Not anymore, it seems....

Gee, it's almost as if your attempts to turn the xbox into a TV were really fucking stupid.

Every. Single. Thing.

That they went on and raved about during the initial Xbox One reveal turned out to be a complete waste of time, resources, and sales.

FULL HD NEXT GEN EXPERIENCE!

Nope.

ALWAYS INTERNET!

Nope.

SHARING YOUR GAMES IS COMPLICATED!

Nope.

KINECT IS MUST, YOU CANT NOT HAVE!

Nope.

TV TV TV TV!!

Nope.

...

What's next? Xbox One is being renamed to Xbox 361?

Neronium:

fix-the-spade:
Does anyon else think someone somewhere in Microsoft has a list entitled The shit Don did that I now have to undo?

I feel bad for Phil Spencer because of all the shit that Don Mattrick piled up for the guy. He's been on damage control since day one, and I have to commend him for doing so well for turning a lot of things around. Still has work to go, but it's better than nothing. :P
Imagine if Jack Tretton had done what Mattrick had done before resigning from his position.

Good call! A similar thing happened in my office where the CEO at the time put on heaps of staff and assigned them to niche projects. When the company started tanking the business got sold and the new CEO had to come in and shed jobs left right and centre. It wasn't his fault that the previous guy made a lot of stupid decisions.

Well, can't say I'm surprised, the whole "TV" thing just wasn't the right focus for a gaming console.

I still don't like the Xbox brand one bit, but at least I'm glad Mr. Spencer is taking the right steps to make it less shitty.

NuclearKangaroo:
man, microsoft has backpedaled so much they could win the tour de france going backwards

Haha xD

SupahGamuh:
Well, can't say I'm surprised, the whole "TV" thing just wasn't the right focus for a gaming console.

I really can't say anything more that this doesn't already sum up in its entirety.

I imagine the Master Chief collection might be able to cater to the Halo fanbase and make up for some lost sales on Microsoft's end... but seriously, I think the Wii U has had better overall success in marketing than the Xbox One so far.

Alpha Maeko:

What's next? Xbox One is being renamed to Xbox 361?

Xbox should have its original name back - Xbox 720. Thats because it can only do 720p

Micah Weil:
Huh...didn't know you could back up a truck at Warp 3...
Though, I do have to say, I am a tad bit grumpy. I had a mild interest in what they were gonna do with the Deadlands series...

Thankfully, according to Shane over at PEGINC's FB page it's still being worked on.

Shane here.

Rumors of the Deadlands live action series' demise, I'm happy to say, are greatly exaggerated.

It is true that Microsoft had a very large layoff today and closed what was called XBox Entertainment Studios. A number of projects are still in development with the exact same people, however, such as Steven Spielberg's (Exec Produced) Halo series AND...

...Deadlands. Others will be announced one way or another in the days and weeks to come, I believe.

The shows may take on a different form than was originally envisioned, or they may be partnered with other networks as things are sorted out. And of course the project may still terminate at any time just like any entertainment project--that is always the case regardless of the parent company's actions or focus changes.
Pinnacle and I offer our support to all the XBox staff who were let go and the creators whose projects were cancelled. We know what a punch to the gut that can be--we've been through it many times and will go through it many more, we're sure. But we also know you will recover and move onward and upward with experience gained and lessons learned. These are unfortunate setbacks. They are not endings.

Now on to the positive news for Deadlands' fans.

Meetings were held between the writer / director and the XBox exec and creative teams yesterday (July 16). Both sides report that it was one of the best meetings they've ever had, with ideas flying and enthusiasm high. The group is now working on the series' outline and pilot revisions, and when we're able and if things continue to move ahead, we'll announce the writer / director and at least a little bit about the actual content of the series itself.
Thanks very much to all those who sent IMs, emails, texts, and phone calls to us to offer their support.

BloodSquirrel:
Can't say I'm shocked.

Just wasn't any synergy there.

Couldn't have put it any better. Considering that there are shareholders and board members asking questions about whether or not XBox *itself* is a part of Microsoft's core business, it shouldn't be any surprise that branching out into creating TV content exclusively for the platform would end this way. MS aren't in the TV business and the expense involved for unknown returns is silly by any measure.

Consider also that Microsoft who own Windows and develop DirectX, dominate the PC market and they won't release games they themselves financed, such as Halo franchise, on the platform. They won't port games already made onto a platform they own but they will finance TV shows which also won't be seen outside of XBox?

PMAvers:

Micah Weil:
Huh...didn't know you could back up a truck at Warp 3...
Though, I do have to say, I am a tad bit grumpy. I had a mild interest in what they were gonna do with the Deadlands series...

Thankfully, according to Shane over at PEGINC's FB page it's still being worked on.

Shane here.

Rumors of the Deadlands live action series' demise, I'm happy to say, are greatly exaggerated.

It is true that Microsoft had a very large layoff today and closed what was called XBox Entertainment Studios. A number of projects are still in development with the exact same people, however, such as Steven Spielberg's (Exec Produced) Halo series AND...

...Deadlands. Others will be announced one way or another in the days and weeks to come, I believe.

The shows may take on a different form than was originally envisioned, or they may be partnered with other networks as things are sorted out. And of course the project may still terminate at any time just like any entertainment project--that is always the case regardless of the parent company's actions or focus changes.
Pinnacle and I offer our support to all the XBox staff who were let go and the creators whose projects were cancelled. We know what a punch to the gut that can be--we've been through it many times and will go through it many more, we're sure. But we also know you will recover and move onward and upward with experience gained and lessons learned. These are unfortunate setbacks. They are not endings.

Now on to the positive news for Deadlands' fans.

Meetings were held between the writer / director and the XBox exec and creative teams yesterday (July 16). Both sides report that it was one of the best meetings they've ever had, with ideas flying and enthusiasm high. The group is now working on the series' outline and pilot revisions, and when we're able and if things continue to move ahead, we'll announce the writer / director and at least a little bit about the actual content of the series itself.
Thanks very much to all those who sent IMs, emails, texts, and phone calls to us to offer their support.

Sweet! Thank you for this data.

 

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