Ensemble Studios

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Ensemble Studios was a game studio known for the Age of Empires series and the developers of Halo Wars, the first real-time strategy game set in the Halo universe. The studio was disbanded in 2009, following the release of Halo Wars. A majority of studio's former employees moved to Robot Entertainment.

History[edit]

Origin and acquisition by Microsoft[edit]

A screenshot of Age Of Empires III

The studio founded in 1995 in Dallas by Tony Goodman, his brother, Rick Goodman, Bruce Shelley, and Brian Sullivan. The studio released its first game, Age of Empires, after two years of operation. The game was well received by the gaming community at the time, establishing a venerable reputation for Ensemble as a leading real-time strategy developer.

In May 2001, the studio was acquired by Microsoft.[1] Under Microsoft till 2007, Ensemble developed their last Age of Empires title and Age of Mythology, a spin-off from the series.

Developing Halo Wars and closure[edit]

In 2007, Ensemble spent 12–18 months prototyping their Age of Mythology engine to experiment with the concept of a real-time strategy mechanics on a console.[2][3] The studio concluded the experimentation with the concept of a centralized user interface system and settled for micromanagement and base-building and restricted resource gathering and management to bases. These game mechanics were presented to Microsoft shortly after.[2] Microsoft, being risk-averse at the time, pressured Ensemble to rebrand their formerly original game as a Halo titles.[4] Microsoft doubted that a real-time strategy game on a console could achieve adequate sales otherwise. This decision by Microsoft created a breakdown in relationship between Ensemble Studios and Bungie Studios.[4][note 1] Regardless, the studio cooperated with Bungie Studios to develop Halo Wars.

On September 10, 2008, Ensemble Studios announced that it would be closing a short while after Halo Wars was released. Dave Pottinger, Lead Designer of Halo Wars, issued a response assuring that the quality of the game should not be affected. Post-release support for the game is being provided by Robot Entertainment, where a majority of Ensemble's employees went after the close.

List of games[edit]

Name Release Date Genre
Age of Empires 1997 Real-time strategy
Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome 1998 Expansion pack
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings 1999 Real-time strategy
Age of Empires II: The Conquerors 2000 Expansion pack
Age of Mythology 2002 Real-time strategy
Age of Mythology: The Titans 2003 Expansion pack
Age of Empires III 2005 Real-time strategy
Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs 2006 Expansion pack
Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties 2007 Expansion pack
Halo Wars 2009 Real-time strategy
Titan (codename) Canceled MMORPG

Known employees[edit]

Note[edit]

  1. ^ Ensemble Studios desired to use their novel game mechanics for an original title. This was denied by Microsoft, who suggested that the game would sell better as a Halo title. Bungie was discontent with Microsoft's decision of forcing the Halo intellectual property to be in a different genre. This led to their buy-out in 2007.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Gamespot: Microsoft to acquire Ensemble Studios
  2. ^ a b Gamasutra: Q&A: How Ensemble Gets Halo Fans To Appreciate Halo Wars
  3. ^ Worthplaying: "Halo Wars" (X360) Developer Interview Part 1
  4. ^ a b GameIndustry: Halo Wars: Bungie saw it as "whoring out franchise" says Ensemble founder

External links[edit]