Halo Wars Devs Form New Studio
Former members of the now-defunct Ensemble Studios, the developer of Halo Wars and Age of Empires, have formed a new company called Robot Entertainment, and are working on Halo Wars content as well as a brand-new original game.
When Ensemble Studios closed up shop last month, studio head Bruce Shelley was far from pessimistic about the future of its staff, pointing to the formation of "at least" two more studios that would be made up of ex-Ensemble employees. The first of those new studios made its official debut today: Robot Entertainment, an independent studio spearheaded by Ensemble co-founder Tony Goodman and entirely composed of former Ensemble staff. Robot will be putting together additional content for Halo Wars as well as supporting old Ensemble titles like Age of Empires, but most interestingly is also working on a brand new original property, no details of which have been revealed yet, according to Shacknews.
Though it might sound a bit crazy, Goodman believes the decidedly chaotic state of the games industry, which has been rocked by frequent layoffs and studio shutdowns not unlike those at Ensemble, make this an opportune time for a brand new venture. "Everything is changing: where we buy games, how we buy games, how much we pay, how long we play, who we play them with," Goodman said. "As a fast-moving independent team of game developers, industry leaders and market experts, Robot Entertainment is ideally positioned to play a transformative role in the industry's future."
When Microsoft originally announced the shuttering of Ensemble, they said that there would be a select group of Ensemble staffers who would form a new studio to work on Halo Wars content as well as other Microsoft-owned Ensemble properties, like Age of Empires. Which sounds like exactly what Robot is going to be doing. Good to know that Robot won't just be churning out work for Microsoft (which seemed to be the original implication), but keeping an independent spirit and forging out in their own directions.
I'm not sure I understand, what the hell was the point in shutting down Ensemble if Microsoft are going on to pay half of them to make DLC for one of their games anyways.
I have a feeling that Microsoft will also publish for the other studio that emerges from the rubble of Ensemble.
Popular opinion is that shutting down Ensemble was a cost saving measure to cut the salaries of high ranking employees. So, does this mean that Robot is not owned by Microsoft? Is there a chance that Robot will develop a new Age of Empires? I feel certain the answers are "yes" and "no," but I'm hoping someone will disprove the later.
Age of Empires is my favorite gaming franchise, so I'm really interested to see what they do next. Hopefully something better than Halo Wars. I don't know any Ensemble devs personally (heh), but to my mind it must have been jarring to go from developing AoE to the... relatively simple Halo Wars.
It seems odd that a company who have just been dissovled are still willing to provide content for a game published by the very people who killed them. It would seem there is more to this than what's on the surface. Still, extra Halo Wars armies would be cool.