The 100% Completion achievement description in Halo Wars reads “Ready for the Sequel”, hinting that developers from the now defunct Ensemble Studios might have known they’ll work with Microsoft again in the future. Hopefully we’ll see Halo Wars 2 bring more RTS goodness to the Xbox 360 console.
With Microsoft closing their Ensemble Studios — for “a fiscally-rooted decision” — after Halo Wars was finished, didn’t inspire fans of the Age of Empires series or Halo universe with much hope of a sequel. Aside from the above hint that is. But there’s more hope…
In an email announcing the closing of Ensemble, Microsoft Game Studios boss Phil Spencer did mention that: “Following the closure, the Ensemble leadership team will form a new entity and have agreed to partner with Microsoft to develop future products and provide support for Halo Wars post launch. While the new company will be hiring a portion of the Ensemble employees, its size and resources prevent it from offering positions to the entire Ensemble team. We hope to integrate much of this creative talent into MGS or the broader IEB team, where we have relevant openings.” Read the full letter at IG.
As for the rest, former employees have banded together and already formed two new development houses…
One of them, former Ensemble Studios producer David Rippy founded Bonfire Studios. Mr. Rippy isn’t very optimistic about RTS games and even goes as far as to say that “Ensemble was kind of a victim of its own success as an RTS shop. As hard as we tried, we were never able to have one of our non-RTS prototypes greenlit, largely because we were ‘the RTS guys’. [...] Our first game is something completely different than what we’ve done in the past. I think our games will always have a strong strategy element to them, though, since that is one of the core strengths of the team,” he told GI.
The second studio, former Ensemble Studios head Tony Goodman who founded Robot Entertainment. It consists out of 45 veterans from the Age of Empires developers, who found a new home there. They currently provide online support and community management for Halo Wars, and are working together with Microsoft Game Studios on Halo Wars downloadable content. As well as providing support for current and make future titles in the Age of Empires franchise. With Robot teaming up with the internal MGS team, all made up of former Ensemble employees, they would seem the likely choice for Microsoft to select to make a sequel to the first Halo RTS. Which, by the way, is currently being met with great initial sales number of over 450,000 units in America and Europe. But right now they’ve only announced they are working on their own original IP.
Picture courtesy of VGboxart, I picked it because I like the idea of the Master Chief appearing in the second Halo Wars game as an epic unit.