Ensemble alums assemble Robot Entertainment

Tony Goodman and other veterans of Age of Empires studio launch placeholder Web site for new development house.

by

Last year saw its fair share of shock studio closures plague the gaming industry, arguably the highest profile of which was Ensemble Studios. A Microsoft-owned studio since 2001, Ensemble was best known for its widely acclaimed Age of Empires franchise for PCs. Despite the studio's strong sales record, Microsoft revealed in September that Ensemble would be shuttered after it completed work on the Xbox 360-exclusive Halo Wars, which ships to retailers March 3.

Shortly after the announced move, Age of Empires creator Bruce Shelley took to his blog to explain Microsoft's financially motivated rationale for closing Ensemble. As part of his post, he revealed that a portion of Ensemble's leadership team had plans to set up a new development outfit, headed up by current studio chief and founder Tony Goodman.

Today, the first details of that new studio have emerged, as Tony Goodman and other Ensemble alumni have launched Robot Entertainment's official Web site. "The founders of Ensemble Studios, creators of the award-winning series Age of Empires and Halo Wars, proudly present a new endeavor," the placeholder site reads. "Stay tuned, we have some big ideas…"

No other details on the studio were revealed, and the Web site clearly notes that Robot is not currently hiring. At the time of his original post, Shelley said that he did not plan to join Goodman on the new venture, although he did say he believed "the spirit and mission of [Ensemble] will be carried forward in this new company if enough of the key leaders agree to take part, which I expect to happen."

Discussion

129 comments
HaRiZ420
HaRiZ420

I really hope robot entertainment can make age of mythologies 2, because that game I would give my left nut to play.

8smokes
8smokes

Ahh, too bad Ensemble won't be around to witness the success of their new game.

harkusrex
harkusrex

yeah right about the name.But I like these guys. I hope they can make a game that will have the same impact as AoE

Meska2
Meska2

Good for them. I am glad to see there getting back into the game. However, i am not to sure about the name. Robot Entertainment sounds kinda "cheap" to me. Almost amature in a way. Oh well, it's not all about the name, it's the brains behind game. And since its most of the core guys from Ensemble Studios then im sure there is nothing we have to worry about. Well, id hope...lol

Grandpa1676
Grandpa1676

Run with it!! AoE was one of the best games ever for the PC community.

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

Sounds like everything turned out alright in the end for Ensemble, good luck to their new studio. Nice to hear they'll continue working with MS for new Halo Wars related content. And to those guys who are spitting all over MS at this point: Wake up call time. Game publishers do this all the time, sometimes even the more respected ones. The general problem is the people in charge of the organisation are often blinkered to certain realities. They see short term financial trauma, and panic lay-off. It's the foundation for a good half the current global recession's aspects. Need I remind you of all the other studio closures, lay-offs and absorptions seen all around. Yes Ensemble had pedigree, and you'd think they were immune. You've gotta take anything you see in the media, and dumb the drama down because it's almost always blown out of proportion and reality. Truth probably was Ensemble were stretching the budget a little bit, they'd already asked for complete new office, plus they were looking into other expansions. In the end it probably wasn't Ensembles choice, but perhaps they'd outgrown the boundaries of a first party studio. A bit like Bungie had by Halo 3, and why they left MSGS and became a third party developer for MS instead, with their own rules. Common thing with first party groups is they need to be able to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Once a studio grows beyond that, keeping it first party is only a hindrance to further progression. So on that note, good luck to their future progression!

Vicel0r
Vicel0r

If M$ own the rights to the AoE series, Robot could just use something similarly named; Era of Empires anyone? Perhaps this is a good opportunity to restart from the neolithic times, with today's graphics and new features it would be an easy resell.

JGoWild
JGoWild

let me put it this way developers like Ensemble are like singers and Publishers like microsoft are like Recording Labels like universal music etc. We all know that singers are famous but labels are the ones who suck money out of the consumers so no matter what kind of game "Robot" makes, until and unless it wont do its push sell it is not going to be fat, and I think it is not going to push sell.

Gruff-182
Gruff-182

I'l buy there first game, even if it isn't my thing. Just out of respect to those guys and to give the finger to Microsoft, for being a bunch of arse-clowns. Best of luck to them.

Dixteel
Dixteel

Wow, I hope their idea is exactly what the name suggests: high-tech robots armada!

Beanmachine12
Beanmachine12

Sounds good! can't wait to see what comes out of their secret hiding place!

d_kell411
d_kell411

I really do hope Microsoft regrets this in the future, Ensemble was an amazing company, and I'm sure Robot will be too. Watch Microsoft get beat in sales by Robot in the future and buy Robot Entertainment next haha...

_AbBaNdOn
_AbBaNdOn

Bring on the Robot. Doesnt make a whole lot of sense to close down a studio before you even see how the new game turns out.

ibanezdropd
ibanezdropd

I am so amazed at this. Halo Wars is an amazing game..... and I HATE HATE HATE halo games. Granted it a completely different style, but they pulled me into the universe with this great game. Way to go MS. I'll probably buy Halo Wars, but i'd rather steal it and send 60 bucks to ensemble's new studio.

DarthRevan
DarthRevan

I still can't believe that Microsoft shut down Ensemble Studios especially since they can build RTS games for the Xbox. The company is sitting on billions and they let go of so much talent. And they're wondering why their stock is stagnant? It's very hard not to dislike that company. It took them 3 months to fix my Xbox - kept sending me ones that were dead on arrival and the overseas Customer Service Reps were annoyed that I would call back...Argh!

thingta42
thingta42

Wouldn't a RTS on the Wii work? Since the wii handset can work like a mouse.

Eldramesha
Eldramesha

Stab in the back would be a PS3/Mac only game.

Jedi_Dad
Jedi_Dad

My guess is that robot will produce an amazingly successful RTS in the future and that will really make M$ question their decision to shut them down. In addition, you can bet that robot will NEVER use M$ again as a resource or publisher. The ultimate stab would be to produce their successful game as a PC/PS3 only game. This move will likely come back to bit M$ in the $$$.

shutter_speed
shutter_speed

great news. ensemble made some great games so i hope these guys do well under their new company,

enix165
enix165

Woo! I'll be keeping an eye on Robot, this looks like it could be really good news...

Ypsteven
Ypsteven

Its good news would be a waste for all their talents to go unrecognised i hope they make it and really some new quality titles. They have plenty of experience to put together quality titles

tidyspidey
tidyspidey

Still haven't played any AoE games, I must get round to them..... I love many other RTSs, so it makes sense I'd like AoE. Particularly the Civ series - that's my favourite. Although I've not played an AoE game, you only have to glance at the numbers of gutted gamers on this board alone that are crying out for the game. I'd feel the same if the Civ series came to a halt.... I hope MS see sense and either put the IP to good use or sell it to a developer who can do it justice....

chickenfeed9
chickenfeed9

Idiotic microsoft still own the rights to the Age of Empires series... Which they have no plans for developing. i really hope Robot manage to buy it back off them somehow. No doubt microsoft will try and stop them, to stop the competition though...

ImOldGreg
ImOldGreg

I wish them the best of luck in their endevours.

Nomad0404
Nomad0404

Good on them getting into bed with MS in the first place maybe wasn't the best idea for them.

PSGamerforlife
PSGamerforlife

I don't think they can make another "Age of" game cos the IP is owned by Microsoft game studios, i think M$ are idiots.

kozzy1234
kozzy1234

give me age of empire 4 instead of any more Halo wars games!

Visiondj1
Visiondj1

Bring Halo Wars to the PC! KKthxbAi!

d3emondav3
d3emondav3

Hope aoe 4 is set in modern times. Anyway, it makes me happy to know that Ensemble lives on as Robot Entertainment.

gow117
gow117

aoe4 is coming!...i hope anyway, good luck with this new project and bring great games

Timmeus
Timmeus

I hope they do well and Microsoft can burn in hell.

24k_Solid_Gold
24k_Solid_Gold

God bless Robot Entertainment! Good luck guys! :)

vortex_gw
vortex_gw

I expect a great RTS from them in the future ^_^, for the PC ofc.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

Regarding a new AoE game, hopefully MS will give them the rights since they obviously have no interest in the series because they decided to shut down Ensemble. So hopefully Robot can get the rights to make the series. Knowing MS though they'll retain the rights just to be dicks about it or either want to charge an exorbitant amount of $$$ to sell them. So we have a lose-lose situation if that's the case: A great franchise just sits forgotten or it's so expensive that no one can afford to buy it off. I wish the best of luck to these guys because they are a premiere dev group. And it was a real kick in the balls that MS pulled this kind of crap with them (of all companies) that busted their ass and made such great RTS games during their time only to be unceremoniously dumped like some aborted fetus in a back alley.

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

Microsoft probably owns the IP for both Halo Wars and AoE. But I'm confident whatever Robot Entertainment comes up with in the future will be better than both those franchises.

Odraude5
Odraude5

i have a question, would they be able to make a new Age of Empires game or is that owned by Microsoft?

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

I can't wait to see what games they come up with!

Red_A_Link
Red_A_Link

yes Robot Entertainment is a phoenix rising from the ashes of Enseble and may they live on creating amazing games

KuraiMauri
KuraiMauri

we need age of empires 4 and we need it now!!

PEELEDbanana
PEELEDbanana

After seeing Square Enix make a bid for Eidos, i am starting to notice that there are other companies that can gobble up devs. But none the less, this company looks prime for the eating by the bigger players (other than MS). You know what would be really funny though, if Nintendo or Sony picked these guys up. O, the irony.

Helloiseeu
Helloiseeu

Sounds good. Hoepfully AoE4 will be out on this company.

BigDaddy973
BigDaddy973

I hope they do well! Look forward to hearing what they have planned :)

phantasm31
phantasm31

Gr8 news. Talent obviously finds a way out.........

DonTonyDeluca
DonTonyDeluca

thats good news i mean we cant loose one of our leading RTS creators plus these guys have been around for ages, they cant go, but joshy294 is right EAs rubbing their hands together grinning