Ensemble Studios, famous for the Age of Empires real-time strategy series, is losing staff members as it nears the end of its Halo Wars development.
Microsoft's Shane Kim addressed Ensemble employees yesterday to explain that after Halo Wars is released early next year, the studio, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2001, will be closed. The cut, confirmed Microsoft, was solely a financial decision "that keeps MGS on its growth path."
"The team at Ensemble has made invaluable contributions to the games industry with their Age of Empires and Age of Mythology games and with the highly anticipated release of Halo Wars," said Microsoft in a statement. "This decision does not reflect at all on Ensemble's talent or the quality of Halo Wars. In fact, many people who have had a chance to test drive Halo Wars agree that it is on track to being a fantastic game."
When the studio is shut down, the "leadership team" will form another development team dedicated to Halo Wars maintenance and future Microsoft Game Studios projects while other developers will be relocated to other Microsoft teams to keep as many workers employed as possible.
The choice to close such a famous studio for fiscal earnings questions the chances that RTS fans will see another Age of Empires game by a different team or stick to its third-party partnerships for fresh titles.