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Microsoft will close its Xbox Entertainment Studios division

Thursday, 17th July 2014 17:04 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Microsoft has announced it will close its Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months, according to an internal memo sent to employees by Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

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In the memo obtained by The Verge, Spencer stated Microsoft as a platform company is a “mobile-first and cloud-first world” and that “games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world.”

“For Xbox to be successful, we must remain committed to being a consumer-driven organization with the mission of meeting the high expectations of a passionate fan base, to create the best games and to drive technical innovation,” he wrote.

“As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organization’s mission, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that, in the coming months, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios.”

Spencer goes on to commend the division’s employees for accomplishments made while building an “impressive slate of original programming” and that heads of the XES team “remain committed to new, original programming already in production.”

The shows still planned include the documentary series ‘Signal to Noise’, ‘Halo: Nightfall,’ and the ‘Halo’ Television series. Support will continue for NFL on Xbox.

Earlier today, a Variety report stated that due to Microsoft’s restructuring plans, the firm was reconsidering original TV programming for Xbox systems.

The report stated industry insiders were aware of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella taking a “hard look” at various operations while “questioning the plan to produce” original series for the consoles.

Back in April, Microsoft said there were “a dozen” original TV programming projects in the works for Xbox One and Xbox 360.

The company’s first major project, a live-action Halo series, as noted above, is safe due to an airing agreement with Showtime. The show will also be shown on Xbox One, and is in development with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV.

Other original content planned or alluded to during an April Microsoft TV event were: Gears of War, Fable, State of Decay, Forza Motorsport, Age of Empires, Deadlands, Extraordinary Believers, Fearless, Gun Machine, an Untitled JASH Comedy/Variety Half Hour from Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim and Eric and Reggie Watts, and finally a live-action adaptation of graphic novel series Winterworld.

Most of those seem to be off the table now.

Back in May, it was announced corporate VP Phil Harrison would deliver the opening keynote for DICE Europe in September, where he will discuss the future of interactive entertainment.

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13 Comments

  1. fearmonkey

    Another 180….. Another reversal in MS’s plans….

    I agree though, I don’t think anyone buys an Xbox One for it’s original programming, and it’s an expense that would be better utilized in doing other things.

    #1 4 months ago
  2. Untold stories

    @fearmonkey they haven’t changed their stance on it yet so no 180 yet

    #2 4 months ago
  3. thegrimmling

    Next step is to partner with Netflix for timed exclusive content to streaming.

    #3 4 months ago
  4. salarta

    It’s become increasingly clear as the year’s gone on that:

    1) Nearly all the original plans for XBox One were Don Mattrick’s ideas.
    2) Don Mattrick had no idea what he was doing.

    The console appears to be turning around since most of the original plans have been reversed or greatly altered. I can say in all honesty that the base idea of some original programming is a nice idea, but only as an extra piece here and there. Too much emphasis on “original programming” can do a lot to kill interest since it takes away from what people want and expect to see at a console’s launch. The initial adopters for a console are gamers, and they care most of all about games. Original programming is something best left at a gradual pace, so that it doesn’t overshadow the games. Its real payoff would come much later, when the price of the system drops low enough for the average person to consider buying it.

    #4 4 months ago
  5. The_Red

    You don’t say…

    Balmer / Matrrick regime fucked up Xbox royally.

    #5 4 months ago
  6. Stephany Nunneley

    Yup. It’s happening. Post has been updated.

    #6 4 months ago
  7. TraceableX

    Xbox TV = fail
    Xbox Kinect = fail
    Xbox DRM = fail
    Xbox Cloud = fail

    What’s next?

    They just lost lots of money and time doing/researching nonsense.

    #7 4 months ago
  8. mr_krunchi

    I think this is due to the restructuring under Satya, hence the 18,000 jobs being cut at Microsoft. The whole Xbox portion of Microsoft was probably reviewed, so it makes sense. Lets just hope that his vision can bring more innovative things to gaming and that these changes are for the better.

    #8 4 months ago
  9. Larvana

    @TraceableX Yet they still working on cloud, and if anything we should see why it’s so “special” soon.

    #9 4 months ago
  10. dontbescaredhomie92

    Well I only use my X1 to play games anyway so it’s not a concern of mine, it’s clear Don Mattrick was a fucking tool and it’s good to see them righting wrongs.
    Moan all you like but this is the platform with all the exclusives and the company that didn’t talk about anything TV related at E3 this yeah, unlike Sony…

    #10 4 months ago
  11. marporte

    It will not affect the gaming portion so it is not a big deal for gamers it is a minor sting for people who were excited for the entertainment portion no matter how much into the minority they are. I feel sorry for the loss of jobs due to recent events. Lots of people lost their job and taking jabs and MS doesn’t make it better. Hopefully MS learns from this and becomes more efficient in the coming months since MS is busy organizing many things in house.

    #11 4 months ago
  12. Untold stories

    Now its happening. This is just so weird.

    #12 4 months ago
  13. jonnymelamet

    I think completely closing down the studio was an overreaction, downsizing and hiring only when a project goes to air seems like a more logical idea.

    I am sure that they will maintain their research into the interactive element and will just work more with partners as opposed to completely scrapping the idea.

    Either way their current slate is still being produced, it is just that they are not picking up new projects. I have a feeling that the Halo series will determine the route with this endeavour.

    #13 4 months ago

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