Flash of Steel header image 2

No More Ensemble

September 10th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · Ensemble, Industry

I’d love to get a direct quote from any of the very talented designers at Ensemble (Dave Pottinger, Greg Street, Bruce Shelley) but we’ll have to make do with Microsoft’s official statements.

Some outstanding questions:

1) What about Halo Wars‘s post-release support? How does the end of Ensemble impact the chances of downloadable content or patches?

2) If Bruce Shelley and other core team members leave for a new studio, what happens to the Age of Empires IP?

3) What does this mean for the future of other studios owned by Microsoft?

4) In spite of Halo Wars, Ensemble is best known as a PC developer. Is this another nail in the coffin of the Games for Windows initiative?

5) If a studio as successful as Ensemble is a fiscal risk for a business titan like Microsoft, what has to change in game development to make companies like this viable again?

Once we see Halo Wars and the studio closes down, it might be time for a retrospective, even though they have nothing to their credit outside of the Age games. There’s still a lot to say about how Ensemble invented the historical RTS and transformed how the subgenre evolved. Maybe someone will sit down with me for that.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • luke

    The splinter company composed of former Ensemble brass has agreed to provide post-release support for Halo Wars. It’s in one of the press releases. The quality of that support is up in the air, but it’s better than no support.

  • Krupo

    @#5 – I call politics. Dirty dirty politics.

    @#4 for that matter too…

  • JonathanStrange

    It seems to me – and I’m no expert on which company made my favorite game or what studio developed my GOAT – that the life expectancy of game studios, companies, developers, publishers, etc. is relatively unpredictable: new game is released to critical acclaim and/or commercial success; studio closes. I’m no industry insider and frankly who makes my games isn’t usually known to me: Stainless Steel, Ensemble, Looking Glass,, etc., I’ve no idea. I do know however that the companies of my early youth (like SimTex, Looking Glass, Sir-Tech, Broderbund, MicroProse, etc.) haven’t been heard from in a long time. Yet gaming went on.

  • jason

    For # 2:

    ” While Microsoft is losing the studio responsible for the successful PC franchise Age of Empires, “Microsoft continues to own Age of Empires.” Kim explains, “It is not losing Age of Empires itself. We’re still super excited for the potential for the franchise. The Windows gaming world continues to evolve, and we believe in the future of that property.” ”


  • Alan Au

    I blame the broken project-to-project model of game development.