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Ensemble's Shelley: Staff 'Shocked' By Studio Closure

Ensemble's Shelley: Staff 'Shocked' By Studio Closure Exclusive

September 23, 2008 | By David Jenkins

September 23, 2008 | By David Jenkins
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Ensemble co-founder Bruce Shelley is speaking out on the 'shock' of the studio's closure by Microsoft Game Studios’ earlier in the month.

The shutdown appears to have been a surprise to those both in and outside of the company. On his blog on the Ensemble Studios website, Shelley writes, "I have mentioned with regret the closing of several quality game studios over the past several years but I never considered that ES would join the list."

"Everyone at our studio was shocked, and I think remains very disappointed that this is going to happen. I believe we thought we were immune to shut-down talk because our published games have done so well and have been so profitable."

Shelley continues: "Plus we felt we had built a really stable (low-turnover), talented, hard-working, and creative team, which is not easy to do. We thought we were among the best studios in the world, and that may be true, but we don’t fit in the future plans of MGS as an internal studio so we’re out."

According to Shelley, a senior MGS executive addressed the studio in early September and delivered the news -- but did not offer details on why the decision was made.

"I understand it was based on several major factors," says Shelley. "First, they want to divert the headcount tied up in ES and the costs that are expected to be required to run ES for the next few years into other projects. Second, it sounded like it cost more to run ES on a per person basis than other first party studios putting us at a disadvantage. (Plus they avoid the expense of a new office that we were planning.)"

"And third, games those studios are expected to deliver in the next few years are expected to be more strategic and profitable to the company than anything we would be finishing after Halo Wars."

As indicated when the original announcement was made, many Ensemble staff will be offered opportunities in other MGS studios, including the new offices in Redmond. Shelley also indicates that many recruiters and other studios with openings have also been in contact.

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