Much of the news concerning Microsoft today has centered around staff cutbacks, the end of any forays into Android, and the killing of some Nokia services. But the cuts don’t stop there. Also on the chopping block is Xbox Entertainment Studios, a division set up back in 2012 with the aim of creating original video content for the Xbox platform.
The focus on gaming at this year’s E3 should have been seen as the writing on the wall. While Xbox One had previously been touted as being at the heart of home entertainment, this time around it was the games that were left to do the talking. Satya Nadella’s ear.lier memo to employees made no reference to the programming output of the studio, although Microsoft will continue to throw its support behind the console.
It not yet clear quite how many people will be affected by the closure of Xbox Entertainment Studios — it is possible that some employees will be moved elsewhere in the company — but a memo sent out by Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios, confirmed the bad news:
I have stated this before, but 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.
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.
The exact timetable for the closure has not yet been set out, and some projects are going to continue for the time being. “Original programming already in production like the upcoming documentary series ‘Signal to Noise’ whose first installment takes on the rise and fall of gaming icon Atari and of course, the upcoming game franchise series Halo: Nightfall, and the Halo Television series which will continue as planned with 343 Industries.”
Quantum Break, a live action TV show-video game hybrid, will also live on. In fact, it is set for release next year and the game, along with the show, remain on track. “The news of Xbox Entertainment Studios has not impacted our progress and we’re excited to share more details of Quantum Break at Gamescom in August,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Polygon.
The statement explains that Microsoft remains dedicated to delivering interactive content to Xbox users, but it looks as though this will be driven mainly by third parties in the future.