Rumor: Ensemble to dissolve after Halo Wars [Update: Confirmation from Microsoft]

Isn’t this a kick in the pants? Shacknews is reporting that Ensemble Studios will cease to exist once the RTS based on the Halo franchise is finished. Moreover, employees not working on Halo Wars were let go today while incentives were offered for those on the project to stay on until completion. The RTS is due to come out in the first half of 2009.

Update: Microsoft has just confirmed that Ensemble will be closed after Halo Wars is launched, but fear not for some of Ensemble folks will form another development studio shortly after.

Microsoft has decided to close Ensemble Studios following the completion of “Halo Wars.” After the closure, the Ensemble leadership team will form a new studio and has agreed to provide ongoing support for “Halo Wars” as well as work on other projects with Microsoft Game Studios.

The team at Ensemble has made invaluable contributions to the games industry with their “Age of Empires” and “Age of Mythology” games and with the highly anticipated release of “Halo Wars.” This decision does not reflect at all on Ensemble’s talent or the quality of “Halo Wars”. – in fact, many people who have had a chance to test drive “Halo Wars” agree that it is on track to being a fantastic game.

This was a fiscally-rooted decision that keeps MGS on its growth path. While the decision to dissolve Ensemble was not an easy one, Microsoft is working to place as many Ensemble employees who do not move to the newly formed studio into open positions within Microsoft as possible.

As to our overall strategy at MGS, it remains the same. We are committed to growing MGS with world-class talent both internally and with our external partners around the globe. We have recently added some well-known developers to our team and will continue growing the team. We’re particularly excited about the titles we have in the pipeline and continue to evaluate additional opportunities to bring incredible games to life with the industry’s best. Our investment in games has never been greater than it is today.