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Archive for June 15th, 2009

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: