MS closing Ensemble (AoE, Halo Wars)

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Acert93, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    Shacknews:

    Spot the trend:

    Ensemble
    Bungie
    Carbonated Games
    Digital Anvil
    Hired Gun
    FASA Interactive
    Indie Built
     
  2. liolio

    liolio Aquoiboniste
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    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/microsoft-ramping-down-games-development-st-john
    Alex St John's comments make a lot of sense.
    The trend is made even clearer when MS dared to say that exclusives are not longer that important.
    The point would be to not fortget that they are still important :lol:
    Anyway focusing on fewer really shining projects can make up for number.
    Secure a third party game as an exclusive from time to time can not hurt either.

    It has to be expected from MS they always shown cold feet when it was about position themselves as a content creator (huge difference thus Sony).
     
  3. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    Or they totally mismange their studios. It isn't like they have a lot of them, not to mention Ensemble has been successful.

    These moves (and related ones, see Bizarre Creations) may really come back to bite them when/if Sony co-launches the PS4 and Ninny offers up relatively competitive hardware. All those relatively cheap exclusives from premier devs (like Bioware, who are no longer available for such) won't be there. It could get ugly if whoever they snag to develop post-Bungie Halos (GearBox?) drops the ball... and uglier if key partners like Epic decide that the green is, well, greener on the other side of the fence.
     
  4. obonicus

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    The tin-foil hats say that this is MS divesting itself of PC gaming. I wonder if there's any truth there, since Ensemble was a proven studio. I suppose we should keep an eye on Flight Simulator.
     
  5. liolio

    liolio Aquoiboniste
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    Ensemble may not disappear entirely, if those claims are to be trusted ;)
    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/phil-spencer-ensemble-closure-is-right-thing-for-our-business
    In regard to what happen next, it's to some extend tied to MS technological choices.
    If MS goes full AMD/ATI route or larrabee (shortly X86 cpu) I can't see "historical" MS partners change their position.
    I could even see ID Software jump in if MS is to use LRB.

    But we should not read too much in that case:
    Ms could pump up the budget when the nextgen will be getting closer.
    they 're rationalizing their capacity into something more cost efficient (right now) and that could scale better later (next system launch).
     
    #5 liolio, Sep 10, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2008
  6. archangelmorph

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    Smart business move IMO..

    With development costs up staggeringly high & very few IPs making respectable sales figures it makes much more sense to focus (e.g.) 70% of your development budget towards projects that bring in 70% of your revenue..

    It does start to look like a few very large budget productions (with multi-million-seller marketability) makes more sense for them & so they are re-jigging their expenditures accordingly..

    Still sad for Ensemble though..
     
  7. obonicus

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    The point is that they're still closing the studio, the new company is not picking everyone up, and Microsoft isn't guaranteeing a job to those who aren't. It's actually rather vague.

    Game devs make money off games (and game-related products, like engines), not technology. Carmack isn't crazy about Cell, he's still targeting the PS3 with Rage. They'll go where the money is.


    Well, games don't spring out of the ether the moment you create a studio. They take time to make. People seem to think MS will launch its new system in 2011. To have games ready for that, they need to start building studios by what, late 2009? 2009 is 4 months away. There's talk of building a Halo team, but not much else. If they're going to start refocusing, they have to start soon.
     
  8. obonicus

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    Do you have actual numbers on this that you can share? Ensemble seems to turn a profit. This only makes sense to me if MS has a very pessimistic forecast on the profitability of RTS titles/PC gaming.

    But they let Bungie go and keep Rare around. Rare isn't a failure, but they also haven't had a breakaway hit this gen, just a bunch of well-performing titles. Halo Wars would probably be at least as popular as those, since AoE3 was.
     
  9. liolio

    liolio Aquoiboniste
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    The point is Ms has money, people at ID shown lot of interest for the Larrabee.
    Given some financial help they may want to provide "the" engine for the system (/try to )
    Well they still have ressources left, they may start to focus on tools etc.
    They can add in artists /junior coders later, they are not to launch with that many games anyway.
     
    #9 liolio, Sep 10, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2008
  10. V3

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    Shame. AoE2 and its Conqueror exp is one of the greatest RTS ever made, I still play it from time to time. Their Star Wars RTS was a dissapointment. AoM and AoE3 I didn't like too much due to the setting of those games.

    BTW anyone got sales figures for RTS on 360 like Lord of the Ring or Supreme Commander or any other. FPS pretty much migrated from PC to console really well. I am curious as how RTS is doing.
     
  11. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    With the Halo IP you would think MS would want to leverage Halo Wars as a franchise. The subtle hint being: don't expect a sequal.
     
  12. assen

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    What Star Wars RTS?? The crappy Star Wars RTS was made by Petroglyph, not Ensemble.

    Still, I don't believe the "Ensemble was successful" line. They cancelled a huge, multi-year MMO project. AOE3 was released when, three years ago? Halo Wars has also been in development for quite a long time.
     
  13. assen

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    Not necessarily. They let Bungie go, and are still making one, or maybe several Halo titles. If it's successful, there will be plenty of willing developers to pick it up.
     
  14. zsouthboy

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    :(

    I've spent literally days of my life playing AoE, and AoK.

    :(
     
  15. Acert93

    Acert93 Artist formerly known as Acert93
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    How many proven RTS developers are out there who would be capable and willing to pick it up?

    If Halo Wars was projected to be a solid game you would expect decent sales. Would this not have justified keeping Ensemble around? Branching out their most valuable IP into a new market would seem a good strategy. Hence: why dump Ensemble unless they don't think it would recoup their investment. With the Halo name the only reason I can think of is MS doesn't expect much of it, the monkey's are in control again, or Ensemble essentially pulled a Bungie (i.e. core lead devs said "we are out of here.") Or other...

    But if Halo Wars is projected to be a high quality game and to sell well this leads to some head scratching as there are not many proven console RTS developers around these days.
     
  16. dubyateeeff

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    MS is quitting the console business! ... was my first thought! You heard it here first!

    Not that I believe it...
     
  17. Johnny_Physics

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    Microsoft Game Studios has a long history of being heavily involved in titles made by third parties, from tech to game design, and by keeping the "halo wars leadership" or whatever they called it they have an even stronger and more capable core to Miyamoto-out a sequel from some unnamed developer.
     
  18. obonicus

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    But that's essentially the situation that has put them where they are. Unless they're going by the notion that the actual developers don't matter, it hasn't worked that well. Bioware and Bizarre were picked up by multiplatform developers (yeah, MS has PGR, but Bizarre might just come back with Metropolis, multiplatform). Realtime Worlds is working on APB, which might be multiplatform and which is an unproven new MMO IP, rather than do Crackdown 2 (which had sales and recognition boosted by the Halo 3 beta thing). They let Bungie go. They don't even own the Gears of War IP.

    From EDGE: Kim: We Still Believe in PC Games
     
  19. ERP

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    The whole industry is cyclic in this regard, a lot of development is pulled internally then later sent back externally because of cost and pulled back internally because it's harder to control quality with internal developers.
     
  20. PiNkY

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    I guess you mean external developers. Nevertheless I think their restructuring is a sign of their business maturing. Up till now they had to generate visibility at all costs; now, that they are fairly accepted as a major player, they'll probably put more emphasis on profits.
     
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