Ensemble Studios

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Ensemble Studios
Former type Subsidiary of Microsoft
Industry Video game industry
Fate Disbanded
Successors Robot Entertainment
Bonfire Studios (now Zynga Dallas)
Windstorm Studios
Newtoy, Inc. (now Zynga with Friends)
Founded 1995
Defunct 2009
Headquarters Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Key people Tony Goodman
John Boog-Scott
Rick Goodman
Products Age of Empires
Age of Mythology
Halo Wars

Ensemble Studios was a video game developer initially established in 1995 as an independent company by Tony Goodman, Rick Goodman and John Boog-Scott, but was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 and operated as an internal studio until 2009, when it was officially disbanded.[1] Ensemble developed many real-time strategy games, including the Age of Empires game series, Age of Mythology, and Halo Wars. In addition to game development, Ensemble Studios also made the Genie Game Engine used in Age of Empires, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. The studio sold 20 million games and was worth an estimated $500 million.[2]

Games[edit]

Ensemble Studios developed the Age of Empires game series of real-time strategy titles, comprising Age of Empires, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and Age of Empires III. They also released Age of Mythology, a spin-off from the original series. Expansion packs were also released for all their games including two for Age of Empires III. Their last release was the real-time strategy game called Halo Wars for Xbox 360.

Release
Date
Title Genre
1997 Age of Empires real-time strategy
1998 Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome expansion pack
1999 Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings real-time strategy
2000 Age of Empires II: The Conquerors expansion pack
2001 Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds real-time strategy
2002 Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns expansion pack
2002 Age of Mythology real-time strategy
2003 Age of Mythology: The Titans expansion pack
2005 Age of Empires III real-time strategy
2006 Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs expansion pack
2007 Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties[3] expansion pack
2009 Halo Wars real-time strategy
Cancelled Titan (Halo MMO)[4][5] massively multiplayer online game
Sorcerer[6] fantasy-adventure RPG
Nova[6]
Wrench[6] platform game
Bam[6]
Agent[6]

Closure and legacy[edit]

In 2008, Ensemble announced that it would close after the release of Halo Wars in 2009. According to multiple independent reports, all non-essential staff have been laid off and remaining staff have been given incentives to remain until the completion of the project.[7] Microsoft issued an internal statement on September 10, 2008 which was then leaked to the public.[8]

The company shut down on January 29, 2009.[9] It was also stated that there are at least two new studios being formed by ES employees.[10]

In February 2009, former Ensemble Studios head Tony Goodman started a new independent studio, Robot Entertainment, and a number of the existing employees have been offered a position in this company.[11]

Following the announcement of Robot Entertainment, former Ensemble Studios producer David Rippy started a new independent studio, Bonfire Studios, composed entirely of former Ensemble staff members.[12] Bonfire was later renamed Zynga Dallas through its acquisition by Zynga and released only one game as an independent company.

In 2008, a third studio called Newtoy, Inc. was created by several developers from Ensemble,[13] which released Chess With Friends for the iPhone in November 2008,[14] and Words With Friends in August 2009.[15] Newtoy was also acquired by Zynga and renamed Zynga With Friends, a moniker off of Newtoy's successful 'with friends' series. Newtoy released two games while they were independent.

In March 2009, a fourth studio, Windstorm Studios was founded by ex-staffer Dusty Monk as a one-man company.[16] Dusty Monk later closed this studio on March 21, 2012 and joined Robot Entertainment with his former co-workers.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Microsoft to acquire Ensemble Studios". GameSpot. Retrieved May 3, 2001. 
  2. ^ "The Death of Ensemble Studios". Edge. Future plc. 20 February 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Co-developed with Big Huge Games.
  4. ^ "Exclusive: Ensemble Studios' Canceled Project Was Halo MMO". GamaSutra. September 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  5. ^ "Ensemble Games prototype; 2005-2007 (Pictures)". Flickr. Retrieved 2008-09-24.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ a b c d e Zelfden, Evan Van (February 2, 2009). "Ensemble Studios: The Last Tour". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  7. ^ "Ensemble Studios rumoured to be closing". Shacknews. Retrieved September 9, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Read the 'Ensemble Studios, You're Done Here' Email from Microsoft". Kotaku. Retrieved September 10, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Bruce Shelley : Halo Wars on Schedule - Wrapping up Soon". Ensemble Studios Blog. Archived from the original on 2009-01-19. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Bruce Shelley : Ensemble Studios Closing". Ensemble Studios Blog. Archived from the original on 2008-11-18. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  11. ^ Ensemble Veterans Form Robot Entertainment, Gamasutra, February 13, 2009.
  12. ^ Ensemble Veterans Assemble Bonfire, Gamasutra, February 20, 2009.
  13. ^ "Newtoy". newtoyinc.com. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  14. ^ Snow, Jean (November 14, 2008). "Halo Wars Devs Form iPhone Game Studio". wired.com. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  15. ^ "Newtoy releases Words With Friends 1.0 for iPhone and iPod Touch". prmac.com. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  16. ^ Third New Studio Emerges From Ensemble Closure, "Gamasutra", March 19, 2009
  17. ^ [1]

External links[edit]