While studio closures are becoming depressingly common, few of the outfits to be shuttered have carried with them the pedigree of Ensemble Studios. Known for its tremendously successful real-time strategy series Age of Empires, Ensemble Studios has been living on borrowed time since September, when Microsoft confirmed it would be closing the developer after it had completed work on the Xbox 360-exclusive Halo Wars.
At the time, Age of Empires creator Bruce Shelley blogged on the studio's official Web site about the team's reaction to the news and revealed that a number of core Ensemble developers (sans Shelley) would be striking out to form their own new company. Now in what he expects to be the site's final blog entry, Shelley said that isn't the only potential phoenix rising from the Ensemble ashes.
"There are at least two new studios being formed by ES employees and I expect both to do very well," Shelley wrote. "There were a lot of outstanding game developers here and it will be interesting to see how and what they do, both individually and as new groups, in the years ahead."
In the rest of the post, Shelley updated readers about Halo Wars' plans and ongoing support for Age of Empires and shared a peek at the developer's bittersweet party to celebrate the completion of its final game.
"It is hard to believe that the day has finally come when Ensemble Studios closes its doors and we move on to whatever is next," Shelley said, adding, "It is worth mentioning that about 60 percent of the people who worked on Age of Empires I were with the studio to the end. And it was a really special group of people who pulled together for the long hours and hard work to finish our last game to our standards."