Microsoft will close its Xbox Entertainment Studios division

By Stephany Nunneley
17 July 2014 17:04 GMT

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.


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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