Ex-Ensemble staffer roasts Bettner on closure reasoning

Thursday, 18th March 2010 19:50 GMT By Patrick Garratt


Ian Fischer, once a lead designer at Ensemble Studios, has blasted manager Paul Bettner over his claims at GDC earlier this month that the outfit was inefficient and prone to crunch.

“If you want to find mistakes with what we did, I’d suggest that those trips into the weeds, looking for new territory, with a partner who wasn’t fond of being there, was more our error,” said Fischer, speaking on his blog.

“Had we decided to crank out RTS after RTS instead of chasing after the MMOs and FPSs and RPGs and RTS-differents we constantly had in prototype, I’m sure we would have been a more efficient studio that could have operated with zero crunch.”

Bettner said in a GDC session that, “The reality is that every single game we shipped took twice as long as we said it was going to take, and cost twice as much to make. Microsoft is a public company, they answer to their shareholders, and we were simply too expensive.”

He also claimed that a “workaholic” culture contributed to Ensemble’s demise.

Ensemble was closed after releasing Halo Wars in 2009.

Soon after closure the studio was shown to have been prototyping several non-RTS projects, including a Halo MMO.



  1. Anders

    Man, I loved Age of Empires II. Still return to it every now and then. I can’t really fathom that Ensemble Studios is no more.

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Talyis

    So that’s what Master Chief looks like!

    #2 5 years ago
  3. 13years

    Esamble started a slow death when Bruce Shelly, the lead game designer behind Ages of Empire I/II took a high level job with in the company and left game design.

    Ages of Empire 3 sold well (2 million) on the PC. But I feel it was large in part on the reputation and nostalgia of the second game Age of Kings. AG3 had great reviews, but no lasting appeal. Personally, thought Ages of Empire 3 was boring, and scripted and does not come close to capturing what Ages of Empire 2 had going for it.

    Halo Wars, the studio’s first true challenge with out the standing on the back of creative genius Bruce Shelly, sold poorly. Was it a good game?

    MS decided to twist the knife in Ensamble studios and not release Halo Wars on the PC. WHERE Halo Wars might have had a chance finding a wider audience. Or god forbid give gamers the elusive ‘Consoles vs PC’ match ups. With online match making that is good at keeping piracy to whatever approximation you call a minimum.

    Why the game was never release that to the PC market is a quagmire. Good job MS, just go back to make the ‘last halo game’ every year

    #3 5 years ago
  4. endgame

    ms is sometimes almost as bad as acti. but, what can u do? u can join EA i guess, or 2K or even Bethesda. why developers don’t do that while they have the chance it’s beyond me.

    #4 5 years ago
  5. blackdreamhunk

    Microsoft is a evil company that beleaves in a dictorship! they will screw consumers any way they can. the funny part is the media is more than happy to support them.

    In fact i am going say that the worse thing that ever happened to gaming is microsoft and sony to enter the gaming business.

    #5 5 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.