Xbox Shuts Down Microsoft Entertainment Studios

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Xbox Shuts Down Microsoft Entertainment Studios

Today was an absolutely grim day for large portions of Microsoft. The company dropped somewhere better than 10 percent, by some reports, of its global work force, planning to drop 18,000 jobs out of a total work force around 130,000 and shattering the old record of 5,800 firings by a factor of better than three to one. While this firing has a massive human cost, there is some silver lining this ominous dark cloud.

The good news is that not everyone fired will be immediately fired. One, this takes place over the course of a year, not immediately. Two, the resulting restructuring will bring some new jobs with it, and some will be moved into those. Severance packages and job transitions will also be on hand, but perhaps the best thing about this is that Microsoft is going to shutter Xbox Entertainment Studios.

That may sound callous, but there's a note of reasoning behind this that bears considering. I don't wish job loss on anyone, of course, but Microsoft's plan to close Xbox Entertainment Studios strikes me as a great thing. Why? Because it will finally get Microsoft off this ridiculous “conquer the living room” drive and get the focus back where it belongs: on the games. Of course, this isn't a complete immediate shutdown; more like a gradual closure. Reports suggest that the Halo television series, as well as Halo: Nightfall and the Signal to Noise documentary series will still carry on and finish out development.

Additionally, Phil Spencer—head of Xbox—noted that Microsoft isn't really planning on getting away from non-gaming apps on Xbox devices, neither launching such apps or supporting them. But reports also suggested what many had feared: Xbox Entertainment Studios was “disorganized,” lacked a strong business plan, and had a tough time getting potential partners at the studio level interested.

This is all, of course, good news. It's one thing if Xbox wants to try converting some of its IP into other media, like series or even movies. Sure, why not? Content is increasingly a big business anyway, and from Netflix to Hulu and beyond, we've all seen the value original series can bring to a platform. Microsoft has plenty of exclusives that it could potentially leverage into series and the like; consider the thought of a State of Decay series; is it a match for The Walking Dead? Again, sure, why not? I wouldn't mind seeing Lily and the crew tromp around Marshall, fending off the Wilkerson Brothers, every week on AMC. The list goes on from there, and would likely help give a little extra development capital toward other things like that. Conversely, Microsoft might want to farm that work out instead of doing it in house, but that's just an option.

Still, the key point here is that Microsoft getting out of “every kind of entertainment ever” to focus on video games is just a smart idea overall. There's plenty of room here for Microsoft to succeed, and with a focus back on games, well, the chances of that happening just got that much better. Naturally, our thoughts and prayers are with those who got let go, but at the end of the day, this might be a help for us all, getting Microsoft back in the game, where it belongs.

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