Confirmed: Microsoft Flight Sim studio closing

After 12 years, ACES Studio permanently grounded as part of parent company's mass layoffs.

Source: See below.

What we heard: Yesterday, the other shoe dropped on long-speculated head-count reductions at Xbox 360 creator Microsoft. With early speculation indicating that as many as 15,000 jobs were in danger, Microsoft confirmed that it would cut its workforce by 5,000 over the next 18 months, with the marketing, sales, finance, legal, HR, IT, and R&D departments being called out as target areas.

Starting the layoff train with a strong push, Microsoft said that 1,400 of the 5,000 total jobs would be eliminated immediately. And according to ZDNet (a division, like GameSpot, of CBS Interactive), sources within Microsoft claim that the bulk of those immediate cuts were made to Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division, responsible for such products as the Zune, Windows Mobile, and the Xbox 360.

ZDNet's sources did not explicitly state whether the E&D reductions would be across the entire division or targeted at specific operations. The site also notes that it was unclear if these cuts would have any material impact on Microsoft's upcoming releases.

That being said, evidence suggests that Microsoft's profitable games group is not being spared. Gamasutra reports today that it has received word from a number of development sources that Microsoft has dismissed "a large portion" of its internally owned ACES Studio, which is responsible for the venerable Flight Simulator PC franchise. 2006's Flight Simulator X for the PC has sold more than 1 million units through December in the US, according to the NPD Group, making it far from an unsuccessful outing.

According to the industry trade site, some of its sources claim that the entire Flight Simulator team has been served walking papers. The site claims that these reports have been corroborated by a number of Twitter posts by unspecified ACES Studio employees confirming that layoffs have indeed occurred.

As part of its most recent fiscal report, encompassing the July-September period, Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division posted an operating profit of $178 million on sales of $1.81 billion. Nevertheless, the publisher has already proven that no studio within its stable is safe, a fact best highlighted by its decision to shut down heralded Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios in September.

It is also worth noting that as of last week, Microsoft's marketing-run GamerscoreBlog announced that it would be closing up shop. "We made the decision to retire GamerscoreBlog, and focus our community outreach through Xbox.com and through the Xbox dashboard," the site said in a farewell message last Friday. Twitter posts by former GamerscoreBlog contributors Chris Paladino and Nelson Rodriguez confirmed that they were two of the "casualties" of Microsoft's recent layoffs.

The official story: [UPDATE] Shortly after publication of this article, Microsoft confirmed that it has indeed decided to close ACES Studio.

"I can confirm the closure of Aces Studio," a Microsoft representative told GameSpot. "Following our annual strategy-review process, IEB is making adjustments within our business to align our people against our highest priorities, and the closure of Aces Studio is one of those changes. You should expect us to continue to invest in enabling great Live experiences on Windows, including flying games, but we have nothing additional to announce around Flight Simulator specifically at this time."

As for other cuts in the Entertainment and Devices division, the Microsoft rep declined to comment, saying only that the company had no plans to expound upon information announced yesterday.

Bogus or not bogus?: Unfortunately, it appears as if Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division's payroll was on the chopping block.

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Discussion

304 comments
korfus
korfus

@soliyer yeah, if you want to fly all over the world, use all airports, you have to fork out $128.00 + SH and then even in their own video promo for the game, the graphics were horrible!

soliyer
soliyer

http://realflightsimulators.blogspot.com/ Get Real Flight Simulator with 20,000 of the World's Real Airports and 120+ Different Planes We are providing flight simulator with 20,000+ Real Airports With changeable Weather and NASA Flight Models.With 120+ Aircraft to Master, From the 1903 Wright Flyer to the Latest Military Fighter Jets.

ckynick254
ckynick254

They should make one last game. Since dx11 is out. Graphics cards are way better now days then 2007. They can then use Graphics cards for the Graphics not CPUs. Add more planes to the pack not just 20. Or what they should do is make a new expansion too add this. But keep the graphics the same just make it use way more graphics card.

qskatermaniac
qskatermaniac

hopefully that we have nothing to announce about flight simulator at this time meant that there was a possibility of opening later.

leoleez
leoleez

wow retarded, Microsoft, have u ever had a recession? Ur acting very retarded, I'm prolly around half the age as you and I know you have over expanded

tk9780
tk9780

Microsoft are making ths same mistakes made by IBM back in the 80's.

soulcold
soulcold

They should make a space rocket Sim now. Flight Sim is so last century

CasinoOutlaw247
CasinoOutlaw247

I am not a huge fan of microsoft or its system the xbox 360 but, I do feel for the people that are losing their jobs. I have seen the flight sims and they are something to behold. People with that kind of talent should no trouble getting picked up elsewhere (hopefully) come to Sony and do some work on the PS3!!

norabbitnofun
norabbitnofun

FS gone? This feels weird. Ok I did not buy into the series, but it has its set of afficionados that follow every release. We will miss a corner stone of gaming without this.

MatzeEdend
MatzeEdend

I always preferred space sims to flight sims, but I still really liked Microsoft Flight Simulator games. I may disagree with a *cough* few of Microsoft's marketing decisions, but they didn't deserve this.

BloodMist
BloodMist

I so miss flight sims, and space sims...The dumbing down of the games industry continues unabated.

cadburysgalaxy
cadburysgalaxy

I lost all respect for Microsoft long ago but I agree with you, this is a major nail in their reputation coffin. Good luck to the people at Aces studios, time to work on X-Plane at Laminar research now or better yet - a new batch of sims! Elite 4, anyone?

jmrwacko
jmrwacko

If only I didn't play so much damn Left4Dead, I could switch to Linux in protest.

TicTac8745
TicTac8745

What a shame really, MS Flight Sim for the X360 would have been real cool. Hopefully those out of jobs can be picked up elsewhere.

Sephiroth36
Sephiroth36

Recession? Gee, on what planet you live in, well, if you think this is a recession ask your grandmother, this is only the tip of the iceberg, plus their little stunt with the DX10 pics to gain some people over vista blew a whole, then another whole not finishing Vista, hopefully Win 7 picks up the pieces or we will have another situation that they never finish and is all about the money. probably now there is more than 150,000 out of jobs by February if things dont change.

xboxbilly05
xboxbilly05

I also have this theory, eventually PC's will merge with gaming consolesby 2020. Think about it, HDTVs are just large and better VGA screens, there is no reason a keyboard and mouse cannot be used in games (but whether they stick with the controller pad well have to see). consoles are getting built like PC's, i.e the PS3 can run linux. So its pretty certain to happen sooner or later. Also microsoft will end up merging its xbox and Windows together, which will just be epic, while nintendo make some sort of super Wii where you end up having to run marathons for no reason and somehow "loose wait". also think about it microsoft are being riddled with complaints about windows Vista and their new Windows 7 touch screen crap will actually give reason to say, "thats the sh*t hit the fan". So now that MS continue to screw PC developers over crappy technology it shows no interest it, its inevitable that Windows/xbox will merge.

Asarath100
Asarath100

do you hear that? its the worlds smallest violin i mean these guys will probaly find more work

mastriania
mastriania

Flight Sims are to gaming as Marcy Playground is to music.

evratto
evratto

No one needs flight sims. I need the ace combat 7 sequel.

VW_MKIII
VW_MKIII

Has anyone stop to think that maybe..... just maybe Microsoft is trying to head off a major downturn in their profits! If you ask me I think that we are nowhere near the hitting bottom! They are a very forward thinking company, so I feel that they are chopping off the fat now while they still can before it gets worse! Sorry about the Gloom & Doom, but the truth needs to come out! Our government is trying to keep the truth from us!

rotnem
rotnem

Can't help but wonder what flight academies are going to use now, since their cheap but comprehensive flight software will be out of date in a few years. Microsoft sure does know how to cut out the big money makers. I swear, if the OS Windows 7 is a cock up I will never forgive Microsoft. First they close the studio that made Age of Mythology, (the same studio that's making Halo Wars. Once that's done the studio will get closed), and now this. Tread lightly Microsoft, your on thin ice in the reputable world. Mess up Windows 7 and your reputation will hit rock bottom faster then Amy Winehouse.

ScreamDream
ScreamDream

It would have been nice to see this on the 360 too.

necronaux
necronaux

Damn, 15000 jobs. Hope this recession/depression stops soon.

inquen
inquen

couldnt have said it better myself "morewasabi"

morewasabi
morewasabi

Another nail in the coffin of PC gaming.

sj_nehama
sj_nehama

wow...check the title people. Last week's article on SONY cuts was as negative as you can get. Up there on the right there is still the title "EA amputates..." and now, they come with a nicer title, almost not touching the fact that jobs are being cut. You gotta love M$ mega robotic arm's reach.

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

They should fire the people who keep building the new opperating systems on top of old out dated systems and ideas. It seams to me that the only division raking in the cash is the games, so why start there?

Hermes33
Hermes33

That's sad news. Well, I was going to say something poignant about Flight Sim... not to mention how the studio will be sadly missed by millions, but after reading this... "Following our annual strategy-review process, IEB is making adjustments within our business to align our people against our highest priorities"... Thanks for the legalese, but seriously, who talks like that? You certainly go out your way to make yourself sound like a dehumanized lawyer zombie, whoever you are. In which case, M$, consider yourself boycotted. We’ll just make sure to never buy any M$ products ever again. Have fun working on your “great” Live “experiences” on Windows, when everyone is switching to PS3 and Linux, thanks to you.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

MSFT is completely giving up on the PC games by dismatling the Age of Empires studio, getting rid of that crossplatform FPS, and now this?

neovdra
neovdra

world69 what you say is actually true!! Licensing fees are a bit steap now but that is not because MS is gready although this would be the most easily made point! This is because there is still no WIDESPREAD need for multidisk games. When games actually need it licensing fees will surely drop.This comparison point between xbox and ps3 is completely moot. Oh and I forgot id: Rage Not Cut Because of Xbox 360 Limits http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/54780 id's Tim Willits on Rage, Xbox 360 Disc Controversy: Microsoft 'Not Being Dickheads' http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=1001 I would suggest checking what has happened since before posting!

billyjunxix
billyjunxix

world69star69, is right...John Carmack has already stated that the 360 version of Doom 4 and Rage is the worse version compare to the PS3 quality with full texture and full audio. Janderdarkmoon, Sega just created one of the greatest RPG of all time and its exclusive on the PS3 called "Valkyria Chronicles".

world69star69
world69star69

Janderdarkmoon, they can't just put the games on multiple disks with m$ consoles unless they are published by m$ themselves. John Carmack the lead programer of wolfeinstien3d, Doom, Quake etc... Is making Rage and Doom 4 right now... He has already stated that the 360 will have a worse version, areas and textures cut, and only be on two discs when it needs three to match the quality that will be in the ps3 version on 1 disc. He states that the ps3 will have full textures and full audio, on 1 disc do to blu-ray, and the reason they can't put it out on more then 2 disks on 360 is do to licensing fees. MS is so greedy they charge extra money for each extra disc that a game requires. Then you will counter my argument with lost odyssey, and I will tell you that was published by ms who do not have to pay themselves.

janderdarkmoon
janderdarkmoon

@ Jon-X93 So what you are saying is that you believe Sony intentionally made the PS3 difficult to program for, because Sony wants the consumers to see a graphical improvement over the years. Did you say this out loud to yourself before you typed it so that you could hear how ridiculous it sounds? Sony knows how a difficult to program for console can make or break you. Just ask Sega and look at the way they absolutely buried another notoriously difficult console, the Sega Saturn. As for dual layer DVD's being a limited format, well when companies run out of disc space they just put the game on multiple discs. They have been doing this for a long time too, since the PS1 Saturn era actually. From your comment though it is pretty obvious you had to have been like two years old at the time this all happened. Which is forgivable. It's just wise to know a little history before making baseless comments and trying to pass them off as "fact".

Jon-X93
Jon-X93

@timmy "western game development prefers to use a programming framework made by Microsoft because its easier for them make better games with it. Why do you think that even though the PS3 's hardware is superior to the Xbox360's hardware, most western made games still run better on the 360? It's because they were programmed first for the Xbox360 and then converted to the PS3. " Well first of all Sony made their console hard to develop..now y would they do that?? itz simple: you dont want to see developers making the best ps3 games so easily..if that happenes we would be seeing the same graphics for the next 4 years or so...look at gears 2 Xbox's best presentation so far...if its easy to make gears 2 quality then youd be seeind the same graphics In the ps3 hands Killzone 2 beeing their best presentation and beeing praised as best graphics on any console, shows that to have the best quality you need to work hard for them not have them all in one easy step...Killzone 2 only uses 60% of ps3 sku imagine if they take their time even more... dnt worry soon youll see developers wanting to make better games on the ps3 b/c its more advanced than the 360..im not saying 360 is not capable itz just that the DVD format is limited while the bluray format is more spacious and no limitatiuons

gdonaris
gdonaris

Microsoft flight simulator is a very good game, but i think that with sony makes a flight simulator it would sell more than this one, and i think it would be better.

VGA_assassin
VGA_assassin

Krayvn, if you go by that logic, don't buy any sony products either. Ever hear of the DRE? know what your talking about before you say something.

Zloth2
Zloth2

I can understand Microsoft cutting out things that aren't making money, but why cut things that are? Did somebody, somewhere project that these groups would stop making money soon? I'm starting to wonder if they are just using the economy as an excuse to cut things for internal, political reasons.

Wild_Card
Wild_Card

Redthing: if you have not you should try the IL-2 series of ww2 flight sims. thay are much better than anything M$ put out. I wounder if this will shut up the fanboys who trolled about when thay reported on sonys cut backs lol

Redthing
Redthing

I fondly remember the hundreds of hours I spent playing Combat Flight Simulator 2 online, and I remember how sad I felt when the servers were closed. If I had a time machine, I would go back and enjoy it again. There was nothing like practicing formations and attack plans with your squadron, and then carrying them out against a rival squadron the next day. Though I never really got into Microsoft Flight Simulator, this is one article I wish wasn't true.

Superman1938
Superman1938

A terrible shame for those of us who love to fly. There is nothing like having an entire photorealistic world to fly around in and every airport in the world to take off from. I was so looking forward to the day when I can fly over my house and make out details as clearly as google earth.

timmyg15
timmyg15

SushiMusashi: Its pretty clear you have no idea what you are talking about. PS2 has more exclusives then the original xbox because it came out over 2 years before xbox. Sony spends just as much on exclusives if not more now because they see the PS3 struggling in the American market and are trying to get sales up. But none of this even matters, because all we're seeing is the western game development passing Japanese game development in quality that western people prefer. And western game development prefers to use a programming framework made by Microsoft because its easier for them make better games with it. Why do you think that even though the PS3 's hardware is superior to the Xbox360's hardware, most western made games still run better on the 360? It's because they were programmed first for the Xbox360 and then converted to the PS3. Gears of War, GTAIV, Bioshock, Call of Duty, Madden, Halo, Mass Effect (BioWare), all of these are made by western game development companies. Why would they prefer to do business on the Japanese console, which is more difficult to program games for? It's obvious you're just a kid and very clueless but opinionated. As for the Microsoft is ruining PC gaming argument: In 5-10 years the console and the PC gaming market are going to merge anyway. It was inevitable, HDtvs are now just huge computer monitors, so naturally people are going to start using them that way. Todays consoles are pretty much home theatre PCs anyway, you watch movies on them.

Dysehunter
Dysehunter

Why do microsoft need to cut jobs ? theymake in excess of a few hundred billion a year in clear profit, this will only save them a few hundred million which is nothing to that company. Quite sad when greed shows its ugly head, bad form microsoft, bad form indeed.

collingtonuk
collingtonuk

Its sad that Microsoft have taken the 'downturn' as an excuse to cut jobs. The 360 teams seem to have been spared but the PC teams have been hit, even though they were making good money. Microsoft as a whole are also making money and not in any financial trouble as far as their reports and results show so its all the more upsetting that they are taking this action.

wrednajasobaka
wrednajasobaka

"Every Pc gamer...it is your duty to not support MS! They are screwing pc gaming! " Of course they are, what do you expect? Microsoft makes Xbox360 gaming system, which competes with PC gaming. Obvious conflict of interest. When Xbox360 game is sold MS makes money, when PC game is sold MS gets nothing but complaints about their OS. I mean, doesn't it strike anybody as odd that MS is shutting down PROFITABLE PC game developers? How exactly do you save money by doing that? I hope Linux's market share increases. If MS has its way, all PC gaming will move over to Xbox360 platform.

YearoftheSnake5
YearoftheSnake5

Well, that's just great - more profitable studios closing and more people out of work.