Of the many features that the Xbox One has been chastised over, its original TV programming (TV, TV, TV, TV!) was definitely among some of the early frontrunners. Despite the attempted bridge between the two mediums, even projects like the Halo TV series and the documentary of the fall of gaming icon Atari were met with resistance as gamers expected their gaming console to have a bit more Game & a bit less Watch. Either way, the gaming consumer has spoken, and Microsoft is responding accordingly by shuttering the Santa Monica studio as the company instead decides to focus on strengthening its core gaming business.
The majority of the Xbox Entertainment’s 200 employees work in southern California and Vancouver, though the company refuses today how many will lose their jobs. Rumors are already starting to spread that these TV studios will be transformed into game development studios, but that’s pure speculation.
“The single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world is gaming,” Nadella wrote a week ago. “We are fortunate to have Xbox in our family to go after this opportunity with unique and bold innovation. Microsoft will continue to vigorously innovate and delight gamers with Xbox.”
Since the appointment of our lord and savior Phil Spencer, Microsoft has focused its attention on bolstering seemingly sluggish sales of the Xbox One console, which has less-than-matched the sales of Sony’s PS4. The company has since dropped the Kinect, and in tern the price point, which has more than doubled the Xbox One’s latest sales totals.
In closing, Phil Spencer has issued a statement confirming that the studio will indeed close in the coming months. He states that executives Tellem, Jordan Levin and other members of the team will remain to work on original programs that are already in production, such as the upcoming documentary series “Signal to Noise” whose first installment takes on the rise and fall of gaming icon Atari, and “Halo: Nightfall.” The “Halo” television series will continue as planned.
“Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like ‘NFL on Xbox,’ and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates,” Spencer said. “Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organizational change.”
The full memo is as follows:
I hope you have had a chance to read today’s mails from Satya. I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts on what this means for our team and some of the changes we are making as a result.
In last week’s mail outlining some of the steps towards creating the culture and organization to bring our ambitions to life, Satya called out the strategic importance of Xbox as a strong consumer brand, a creative center for gaming and a leader in bold innovation. Every member of Team Xbox should be incredibly proud of the impact and reach your work has within the walls of Microsoft, with our developer community and most importantly, with consumers.
Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for a mobile-first and cloud-first world, and games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world. Success in this category, by growing a robust Xbox business, brings additional value to Microsoft. I have stated this before, but for Xbox to be successful, we must remain committed to being a consumer-driven organization with the mission of meeting the high expectations of a passionate fan base, to create the best games and to drive technical innovation.
As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organization’s mission, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that, in the coming months, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments from the entire team in XES. They have built an impressive slate of original programming and pioneered interactive entertainment on Xbox, such as the innovative reality series ‘Every Street United’ that succeeded in uniting audiences around the globe during the recent World Cup. I am pleased that Nancy, Jordan and members of the XES team remain committed to new, original programming already in production like the upcoming documentary series ‘Signal to Noise’ whose first installment takes on the rise and fall of gaming icon Atari and of course, the upcoming game franchise series ‘Halo: Nightfall,’ and the ‘Halo’ Television series which will continue as planned with 343 Industries. Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like ‘NFL on Xbox,’ and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates. Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organizational change in any way and remain an important component of our Xbox strategy.
Change is never easy, but I believe the changes announced today help us better align with our long-term goals. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us to define what the next generation of gaming looks like for the growing Xbox community. I have a great deal of confidence in this team and know that with clarity of focus on our mission and our customers we can accomplish great things together. We already have.
Thank you again for all you do for Xbox.