News surfaced today that Xbox Entertainment Studios, the new studio that was to produce several Xbox original TV shows, will be shutting down permanently. The company began in 2012 with the vision to create interactive television content for Xbox Live subscribers. The studio looked to solidify its domination of the home entertainment industry by having their own original programming that can be accessed just as easily as Netflix or Hulu through consumer's Xbox Ones. With one announcement of a live-action Halo television show with Steven Spielberg producing it. After seeing the live-action Halo mini-series Forward Unto Dawn I personally am more than excited to see this.
Thursday Morning, an article was posted on Re/Code saying that the Xbox Entertainment Studios would be closing down, which will result in 200 Microsoft employees being laid off. This is thought to be the part of the Microsoft restructuring that will result in the elimination of up to 18,000 jobs over the course of the next twelve months. The article was later updated to report that a company-wide memo was sent by Phil Spencer (head of Microsoft Studios) confirming the studio would be closing and Nancy Tellem (President of Xbox Entertainment Studios), as well as a few other employees would be staying on to finish the XES projects currently in production. The statement also states that Halo: Nightfall, the live-action Halo television show, as well as the app partnerships with world-class content providers will be unaffected by this move.
While all this is big news, Microsoft has not released an official statement regarding anything yet. It seems that Re/Code is getting their news from an unknown source inside Microsoft. A full transcript of Phil Spencer's memo can be found below if you are interested in reading it. I personally am waiting for a public announcement from Microsoft regarding this subject.
I hope you have had a chance to read today’s mails from Satya. I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts on what this means for our team and some of the changes we are making as a result.
In last week’s mail outlining some of the steps towards creating the culture and organization to bring our ambitions to life, Satya called out the strategic importance of Xbox as a strong consumer brand, a creative center for gaming and a leader in bold innovation. Every member of Team Xbox should be incredibly proud of the impact and reach your work has within the walls of Microsoft, with our developer community and most importantly, with consumers.
Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for a mobile-first and cloud-first world, and games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world. Success in this category, by growing a robust Xbox business, brings additional value to Microsoft. I have stated this before, but for Xbox to be successful, we must remain committed to being a consumer-driven organization with the mission of meeting the high expectations of a passionate fan base, to create the best games and to drive technical innovation.
As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organization’s mission, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that, in the coming months, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments from the entire team in XES. They have built an impressive slate of original programming and pioneered interactive entertainment on Xbox, such as the innovative reality series ‘Every Street United’ that succeeded in uniting audiences around the globe during the recent World Cup. I am pleased that Nancy, Jordan and members of the XES team remain committed to new, original programming already in production like the upcoming documentary series ‘Signal to Noise’ whose first installment takes on the rise and fall of gaming icon Atari and of course, the upcoming game franchise series ‘Halo: Nightfall,’ and the ‘Halo’ Television series which will continue as planned with 343 Industries. Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like ‘NFL on Xbox,’ and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates. Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organizational change in any way and remain an important component of our Xbox strategy.
Change is never easy, but I believe the changes announced today help us better align with our long-term goals. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us to define what the next generation of gaming looks like for the growing Xbox community. I have a great deal of confidence in this team and know that with clarity of focus on our mission and our customers we can accomplish great things together. We already have.
Thank you again for all you do for Xbox.