Digital Anvil melted down

All-but-dormant studio formed by Wing Commander creator is put to sleep--staff "redeployed" to Microsoft Game Studios HQ.

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In 1996, game designer Chris Roberts founded an all-new studio, Digital Anvil. Already renowned for his creation of the then-popular Wing Commander series, Roberts had grown restless after his employer, Origin Systems, grew in size. He told the press that Digital Anvil would be a return to the smaller studio system which he felt produced better games.

However, it wasn't until four years later that Starlancer (PC, Dreamcast), the first game to bear the Digital Anvil imprimatur, was released. Around the same time, the small shop was bought by one of the biggest companies around--Microsoft, which folded it into its internal Microsoft Game Studios system. Chris Roberts promptly exited the company, but would consult on several games in development.

Microsoft's first move after buying Digital Anvil was to sell off two of its projects--Frontier Wars and Loose Cannon--to Ubisoft. It also took the previously PC-only Brute Force and turned it into an Xbox exclusive, released in 2003. That year also saw the release of the most acclaimed Digital Anvil game, Freelancer, for the PC.

Now, it appears Brute Force will have the distinction of being Digital Anvil's last game. Today, Microsoft confirmed to GameSpot that it has shut down the shop and is organizing a "redeployment" of its staff to studios at Microsoft Game Studios headquarters.

"Microsoft Game Studios has undergone a redeploying of resources in its Austin, Texas-based Digital Anvil studio and will centralize the studio's resources in Redmond, Washington," the company said in a statement. "We are working closely with current Digital Anvil employees to place each team member in a position on the Microsoft Game Studios team in Redmond if they so choose. This redeployment of resources will be finalized on January 31, 2006."

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