Xbox Entertainment Studios Closes as Microsoft Shifts Focus to Cloud and Mobile - The UpStream

Xbox Entertainment Studios Closes as Microsoft Shifts Focus to Cloud and Mobile

posted Friday Jul 18, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox Entertainment Studios Closes as Microsoft Shifts Focus to Cloud and Mobile

If you didn't catch the memo from earlier in the week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out a plan to cut 18,000 jobs from the corporation. Most of the layoffs, of which is the largest in tech history, will be from the Nokia merger. However, not specifically listed in the note was the purge that will unfortunately be coming out of the Xbox Entertainment Studio.

Microsoft's venture into original programming is coming to an end in a weird kind of way. Santa Monica's Xbox Entertainment Studios will be closed, with 200 employees likely to be finding new lines of work. From our understanding it is being said that there are no "new" projects being started up. The Halo, Quantum Break and Atari projects will all remain intact and will be completed.

There is no word yet on former CBS exec and head of XES Nancy Tellum's status. And, the only thing we had in writing from Nadella was kind of dancing around the Xbox commitment.

The single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world is gaming. We are fortunate to have Xbox in our family to go after this opportunity with unique and bold innovation. Microsoft will continue to vigorously innovate and delight gamers with Xbox.

Luckily, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios and Xbox, sent out an official statement, confirming the closure of the studio, the retention of the current projects and the future of the Xbox brand.

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. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments from the entire team in XES. They have built an impressive slate of original programming and pioneered interactive entertainment on Xbox, such as the innovative reality series 'Every Street United' that succeeded in uniting audiences around the globe during the recent World Cup. I am pleased that Nancy, Jordan and members of the XES team remain committed to new, 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. Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like 'NFL on Xbox,' and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates. Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organizational change in any way and remain an important component of our Xbox strategy.

In the end, it comes down to Xbox really being great at putting out a platform in which media can be contained and consumed, but it made less sense for them to develop original programming for the platform. So Spencer aligns with Nadella's vision on remaining committed to the Xbox brand as a whole, while agreeing that perhaps its own TV studio might not be the best fit. Microsoft execs understand that having internal hardware is a great idea, and especially a console that still remains the center of all entertainment in a family's living room.

We hope for the best for the laid off employees and are still really looking forward to the handful of endeavors that will still come out of the now defunct Xbox Entertainment Studios.


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