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Microsoft shutters Shadowrun and MechAssault developer, the final remnant of the once-mighty tabletop-RPG maker; half the staff "redeployed" to other MGS projects.


Microsoft has confirmed with GameSpot that it has shut down its internal developer FASA Studio. The news first surfaced last night on the official forums for Shadowrun, the shop's PC and Xbox 360 shooter.

"It is my sad duty to announce that FASA Studio has officially closed its doors," wrote FASA studio head Mitch Gitelman in a post. "Today was the official last day of employment for those of us who had not moved on to other positions within Microsoft Game Studios. While the rumors have been circulating forever, we chose to wait on an official announcement because we didn't want people's attention distracted from our last product, Shadowrun, a game we love."

Later, Microsoft reps gave further details on the closure. "Microsoft has redeployed more than half of the FASA employees throughout the Microsoft Game Studios division, strengthening MGS as a whole with their specialized talent developing a cross-platform game and overall experience as veteran world-class game developers," a rep said. "We are very proud of what the FASA team accomplished with Shadowrun, and we will continue to support the title."

Though both FASA and Microsoft corporate PR continue to talk up Shadowrun, the game wasn't the monster hit both parties had hoped for. After receiving middling reviews, the 360 version of the game sold just under 150,000 copies in the US between its May 29 release and July 31, according to the NPD Group. And although one of Shadowrun's main selling points was cross-platform play, the PC edition sold barely over 12,000 copies during the same period.

One of the greatest criticisms of Shadowrun, an online-focused multiplayer shooter, was how far it strayed from its source material. Namely, the densely plotted cyberpunk role-playing game Shadowrun, created by FASA Studio's former parent company, the famed pen-and-paper RPG company FASA Corporation. Founded in 1980, FASA Corp. created many classic franchises over the following two decades, three of which became video games: BattleTech, which inspired nearly two dozen MechWarrior and MechAssault games; Crimson Skies, the subject of PC and Xbox airborne shooters; and Shadowrun, which, prior to its most recent incarnation, inspired a Super Nintendo and Genesis game in the mid-1990s.

FASA Corp.'s game wing, FASA Interactive, was bought by Microsoft in 1999 and renamed FASA Studio. Stung by the decline of pen-and-paper RPGs, FASA Corp. closed down in 2001 and sold off its various properties. Microsoft retains the video game licenses for Crimson Skies, MechAssault, and Shadowrun, but hasn't revealed any future plans for the IPs. "We have no announcements at this time," a rep told GameSpot.

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