Apparently the plan to buy up dev houses and keep them internally is becoming unfashionable and Microsoft is letting go one the most successful development houses they own after they ship Halo Wars. Why? Well, because of the bottom line of course. I’ve been told that and I pretty much believe it…and I’m sure it’s related to whatever business plan of the year is for big game companies like Microsoft. They’ll divest now, then in a year or three, they will buy big again. The ebb and flow of life if you will.
The sad part is that Ensemble gets shoved out the door while Microsoft can’t decide what to do with itself. They have made some of the best RTSes ever created. I’d suggest that Age of Mythology was their best (with the expansion), but I think that’s just personal opinion as I have a soft spot for mythology in general.
I hope the new studio forming out of the mess of Microsoft’s dismissal of Ensemble is kick ass and they like having their freedom again:
After the closure, the Ensemble leadership team will form a new studio and has agreed to provide ongoing support for Halo Wars as well as work on other projects with Microsoft Game Studios
Much like Bungie, they are going to be an external resource instead of an internal one now. Whatever. I guess to keep the investors happy, you need to make it look like you’re doing something, even if that something can be qualified as moving the same box back and forth and calling it progress.
What Would Matt Do: If I were Lionhead, I’d be very wary. They are about to release Fable 2 and right after a big game release is when guys like Microsoft and Sony like to cut dev houses.