Microsoft axes Xbox Entertainment Studios

18 Jul 2014

Microsoft’s attempt to create a multimedia entertainment console for people’s living rooms appears to have failed after the company admitted it is to close Xbox Entertainment Studios to focus on gaming.

The news comes after reports that Microsoft is to cut 18,000 jobs worldwide as part of a restructuring plan following its acquisition of Finnish mobile company Nokia’s Devices and Services division.

With 200 employees on its books, the studio is expected to be winded down over the coming months and years so as to allow its early stage original content to run its course, according to Re/code.

According to sources within the studio, it has been rather disorganised from the beginning, with those dealing with production companies finding it hard to close any deals and supposedly having no long-term business model.

Microsoft’s original plan had been to make its latest console, the Xbox One, into an all-in-one entertainment centre. The company had announced early on that the console had been signed up to show an exclusive TV series based on the Halo gaming franchise, to be produced by legendary director Ridley Scott.

Now it appears it will be one of the first and last series to be produced by the studio. Last night, the head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer wrote a memo to employees, explaining the decision to close the studio.

“Change is never easy, but I believe the changes announced today help us better align with our long-term goals. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us to define what the next generation of gaming looks like for the growing Xbox community.”

The first signs Microsoft was about to ditch the studio became apparent at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, California, last month, when the obvious focus for the new console was games with little to no mention of other content.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic