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Gaming Short Takes: Microsoft Restructuring Rare. Ensemble Staffers Create New Home

restructuringMicrosoft’s Entertainment and Devices division has taken its share of the hits in the company’s efforts to restructure its costs.   Already, Ensemble Studios (maker of Halo Wars) and ACES (makers of Flight Simulator) have been shuttered while the Zune project group has been subdivided into two teams.

Now it looks like Rare, the UK game developer Microsoft bought for $375m in 2002 is the next to get operated on.  Speaking to,  Mark Betteridge, the studio manager, said that “as the entire industry struggles to address the increasing scale and cost of development, we too have felt a need to restructure our current approach so we can speed development and better manage the scale required to create high quality games.”

Job cuts are expected to be limited but not non-existent.

(Update 2/19: at least 12 positions in art and engineering departments have been reported cut so far. )

As a positive side note: some of the staffers from Ensemble Studios have already built themselves a new home.

A studio called Robot Entertainment, run by former Ensemble founder Tony Goodman announced its launch today. The new studio is staffed entirely from Ensemble ex-patriots; forty five in total.

The company will work with Microsoft Game Studios to "develop additional content for Halo Wars and support online gaming and community for both Age of Empires and Halo Wars." (press release)

In addition, the company will develop its own IP, presumably for the Xbox 360 platform.

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