I never expected myself starting a blog on Gamespot. However, MS's recent decision to shut down Engsemble has brought my blood to a boil. In response, I decided to start a blog and vent, hoping that someone will respond to my comment.
I don't think that MS itself has been making quality products in the past few years. However, it had a few great game developers that share a strong relations or works directly for MS. A few good expamples include Halo from Bungie, Rise of Natoins from Big Huge, AOE from Ensemble, and few other gems like Freelancer and Fable.
Unfortunately, things have changed quite a bit. Bungie became indepent (decent news), Big Huge got kicked out and later acquired by THQ (from bad to good new), and now Ensemble is closing (horrible new).
I can potentially understand the reasons if it came from another company that's short for cash. However, I cannot understand why MS will make such a shortsighted decision to kill off some of the most creative game developers.
Even if, under the unlikely circumstance, that Ensemble is losing money after the release of AOE III. Hasn't it made enough money for MS before? AOE is one of the best franchise of all time.
I used to rely on MS for my fix for Historical RTS, but now, I think a drought of good Historical RTS will be upon us for a good while. I hope Ensemble can survive and work on other great projects. As a gamer, I think MS has been hurting good studios as much as EA does.
I hope creativities and gameplay (other than graphic) will retake the mainstage as the central ideas of game design. The culture of sequals is making me jaded. Once again, good luck Ensemble, Double Fine, and other great studios; we kind of need you.