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Posts tagged ‘Natal’

Jun interviews Peter Molyneux and Phil Spencer – says Ensemble and other studios “wernt the core focus of MGS”


The good folks at have a new interview between newly created “Creative Director Europe” Peter Molyneux and Phil Spencer. Indeed if you didnt know, studio head at Lionhead Peter Moloyneux has recently been promoted to look after all of the Microsoft studios in Europe along with Lionhead.

One question in the interview was as follows and refers to the reasons behind removing some studios (Ensemble, Flight Sim and cuts at Rare) to focus on Live, Natal and other “core focuses”.

Q: The past six to 12 months saw studios close and staff laid off across Microsoft. Is Peter’s new position an effort to refocus Microsoft Game Studios after such a significant shake-up internally?

Phil Spencer: That’s exactly right. I moved into the role of head of worldwide studios when I came back from London and one of the first things I did was try to think of all the strategic initiatives that all the different studios thought they were on and I drew this chart and had ten or eleven different things on there. And I recognised from that, as an organisation we need to focus. We have great talent in the organisation but we need to make sure that talent is really focused on fewer things that we can do extremely well.

The downsizing that we went through was more about removing things that weren’t a core focus of the organisation and creating scale and space for us as leaders to think deeply in the areas that are going to be critical in terms of our long-term success. Live is a crucial area for us, for example. And since that time we’ve hired a significant number of people back into the organisation and I expect we will refill all of those positions and even more. The acquisition of Big Park was perfect, we’ve been working with them for over a year on Joy Ride and what we found was a studio of people that were really committed to online, free-to-play, micro-transactions and building new IP. It made sense for us to work together more closely and that’s why we went through the acquisition. It’s about getting focus behind the initiatives that really matter.

So there you have it.. it basically confirms from other MGS leaders what Shane Kim was talking about a few weeks ago when he said that the talent at Ensemble didnt fit into the areas they wanted to explore.

You can read the full interview here:

And more on the original Shame Kim interview about the ES closure over here:


DevelopMag writes about Shane Kim’s statement “Ensemble wasn’t the right studio for Natal”


To continue from my last blog post where I picked up on Shane Kim’s explanation about the cutting loose of Ensemble Studios a magazine has stepped forward to formally express the same viewpoint. I would direct Ensemble fans to the link below for a write up by a professional magazine.

Update: Here’s IGN following suit :

It is possible more information develops on this over the next few days and I shall keep readers informed. I will be adding these news articles into the press archives.

As mentioned before, I think Microsoft made a big mistake in not having faith in the Ensemble guys, those prototypes we saw could of been made into great Natal games.


Shane Kim: “Talent at Ensemble wasnt right for Natal”


With the E3 expo coming to a close today and after some very interesting announcements at Microsoft one of these was the revolutionary controller free full body motion capture device called “Natal“. Shane Kim an executive at Microsoft Game Studios discussed in an interview with Venture Beat that they have put significant investment behind the project. I imagine the cost of implementing hardware and software into Project Natal must be very expensive. But what other costs would there be for having this motion free technology. It seems as though to make way for Natal Microsoft’s internal studios Flight Sim and Ensemble Studios were the casualties.

The Venture Beat interview finally demonstrates the financial reasons why Microsoft decided to close its incredibly successful internal studio Ensemble Studios. Quoting from the interview Shane Kim responds:

VB: You cut some studios like Flight Simulator and Ensemble Studios.

SK: We also acquired Big Park Studios. I don’t know how constant the ebb and flow will be. It’s not unidirectional. We made some hard decisions in the past. We made good decisions. We are still committed to first party. The Big Park acquisition should demonstrate that to folks. We were positioning for things like Natal and I don’t think the talent at Ensemble or Flight Simulator were necessarily the right studios for that.

So there you have it – Project Natal is one of the reasons Microsoft thought was better to invest more in than its long standing internal studios. Will it be the right choice? I am confident that the talent at Ensemble Studios could have made things work with Natal. The studio has some industry visionary legends including Bruce Shelley, Graeme Devine, Sandy Petersen not to mention the rest of the team. Some of the prototypes could have been modelled to work fantastically with Natal including the prototype “Agent”.

It is sad to be blogging about the closing of Ensemble Studios again but it is interesting to find out about the thought process behind the decision. Moving forward though we must support all these talented individuals who have formed new studios. No matter what, we will still see great games from these talented people.

You can read the full interview here: