In 2008, Microsoft
announced their plans to shut down Ensemble Studios
after March 2009. Fans of Ensemble's games, particularly the Age of Empires
RTS series, were in shock. After all, the game were big sales hits, selling millions of copies. Why would Microsoft want to close down the studio behind all of that success?
Our sister site Joystiq attended a GDC 2010
lecture where that question may have been answered. Paul Bettner, a former manager for Ensemble, said that things at the developer were not all wine and roses. Indeed, he said morale at the studio was low when the developer was making what turned out to be their last game, the Xbox 360 RTS title Halo Wars
. He stated, "The reality is that every single game we shipped took twice as long as we said it would take, and took twice as much to make it." Because of constant crunch time, he says that the quality of the games suffered and so did the people.