Microsoft has confirmed that the studio behind the RTS hit Age of Empires will be shutting down once they complete their latest project for the Xbox 360, Halo Wars. Citing "fiscally-rooted" decisions, Microsoft plans to form a new studio with the core employees from Ensemble Studios to create new projects.
The following is an excerpt from Microsoft's statement via Shack News:
"Microsoft has decided to close Ensemble Studios following the completion of Halo Wars. After the closure, the Ensemble leadership team will form a new studio and has agreed to provide ongoing support for Halo Wars as well as work on other projects with Microsoft Game Studios. The team at Ensemble has made invaluable contributions to the games industry with their Age of Empires and Age of Mythology games and with the highly anticipated release of Halo Wars. This decision does not reflect at all on Ensembles talent or the quality of Halo Wars. in fact, many people who have had a chance to test drive Halo Wars agree that it is on track to being a fantastic game."
In an email response to GamesIndustry from Microsoft Game Studios head Phil Spencer, the company's decision to foreclose Ensemble Studio was "the right thing for our business at this time". The developer studio released their first Age of Empire title in 1997 and their final project, Halo Wars, will be released sometime in 2009.