Microsoft to close Xbox Entertainment Studios, killing its plans for original TV shows

Details of Microsoft's restructuring plans have been steadily emerging today, beginning with the company's announcement earlier today of the largest job cuts in its history. 18,000 jobs are to go, with over two-thirds of the layoffs affecting former Nokia employees that joined the company.

As part of the changes, the company's Xbox Entertainment Studios will close with the loss of 200 jobs, as Re/code reports. Just three months ago, Microsoft was talking up the new programming and content that it was creating under the 'Xbox Originals' brand, but those plans have now been terminated. 

The first series to launch under Xbox Originals was 'Every Street United', which premiered last month. Numerous other programming plans have now been shelved, although the company's Halo live-action shows - Halo Nightfall and the TV show being executive produced by Steven Spielberg - are unlikely to be affected by the plans. 

As Microsoft works to consolidate its efforts around a more clearly defined and focused set of products and services, projects like producing original programming are now being viewed as 'distractions' from the company's core goals. It also seems that there were organizational issues at Xbox Entertainment Studios; Re/code said that its "sources paint a picture of a disorganized studio that struggled to close deals and lacked a fully fleshed-out business model."

The studio will "gradually wind down", with remaining shows currently in production being completed, but no further shows are expected to be commissioned. 

Source: Re/code

Update: Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer has now confirmed to Re/code that the Xbox Entertainment Studios will indeed be closing, and that shows in production will be completed, including Halo Nightfall and Halo: The Television Series.

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Heart not broken that MS itself isn't going to focus on TV. There's plenty (and I mean freakin' plenty) of other providers from which to get content.

I agree. I just don't think they should be jumping in to that arena. Their focus needs to be on software and hardware.

Figure 8 Dash said,
Heart not broken that MS itself isn't going to focus on TV. There's plenty (and I mean freakin' plenty) of other providers from which to get content.

Plenty of others to get content from and no reasons to stay locked into an Xbox subscription. Also no reason for non-gamers to have any interest in Xbox. Both brilliant ways to build and run a business.

Why do you think every service is producing it's own original exclusive content? Good for you that it makes it one less subscription that you could get locked into, but dumb for Microsoft and Xbox Live.

True, I can watch Netflix on Xbox, iPad, Roku, Chrome USB thing. I still have an Xbox Live subscription to watch anything other than Netflix and play games. Original content such as Game of Thrones are easy to obtain. Does it mean, I have to get HBO in order to watch it? What's the difference between MS original content and HBO original content?

Getting into the television game would have been a big gamble at this point in time. They have so many new products that need nurturing and all of their undivided attention. With that, this makes sense. Maybe in the future they can give it a go.

They can very well still do original shows for their big IPs, Halo FoD worked out fine IMO, it was a success. I think Nightfall will be as well and the TV series should do good enough that they could do more.

Why not some shows for the next Gears series? Or maybe for whatever other first party big AAA titles would work for them, Fable maybe? No ones talking about long running tv series with years of episodes but they could do mini-series without much worry, 6 or 12 part type deals. I mean look at the success the Mortal Kombat web series has seen, they're already working on the 3rd season of that one.

What's the point? I thought the whole point was to expand their service/contents appeal beyond teenage boys and comic book readers.

They seem hostile to the idea of expanding the audience beyond the core gamer now. What a shame. I seriously doubt Xbox One will even achieve the sales numbers of 360 now, let alone surpass it as was the original vision for the product.

Avatar Roku said,
What's the point? I thought the whole point was to expand their service/contents appeal beyond teenage boys and comic book readers.

They seem hostile to the idea of expanding the audience beyond the core gamer now. What a shame. I seriously doubt Xbox One will even achieve the sales numbers of 360 now, let alone surpass it as was the original vision for the product.

I wouldn't say hostile just not so ready to go head long into it. I don't expect these two shows to be the last ones they do, they're just not going to try to compete with Netflix and Amazon and do stuff that's not related to gaming IP they own I bet, thus you don't need a 200 person "studio".

elenarie said,
Will they also slap around their Xbox Music and Video developers?

Here's hoping. The problem is people still want TV content, they just don't need Microsoft to produce it. We still need good apps and services to provide the content, however.

Nobody "needed" Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Yahoo to produce original content either, but they're all doing it because if you do succeed people will subscribe to your service. It's amazing how feckless and quickly Microsoft surrenders in every market. They make a big deal about hiring all these top execs, signing deals with Spielberg and Ridley Scott, and talk a big game and then instantly quit before they even get started. Microsoft is quickly becoming a laughing stock to consumers and the entertainment industry.

Avatar Roku said,
Nobody "needed" Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Yahoo to produce original content either, but they're all doing it because if you do succeed people will subscribe to your service. It's amazing how feckless and quickly Microsoft surrenders in every market. They make a big deal about hiring all these top execs, signing deals with Spielberg and Ridley Scott, and talk a big game and then instantly quit before they even get started. Microsoft is quickly becoming a laughing stock to consumers and the entertainment industry.

There are absolutely massive differences between what Microsoft was doing and what Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are doing. Those services all have clear visions; Microsoft's entertainment studios never gave even a remotely clear vision. In fact, that's what potential partners complained about after seeing their pitches. The jury is still very much out on whether Yahoo will be successful as well, for similar reasons.

The Halo series is still getting produced, as is the mini series. If they want to continue a relationship with Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott, they could surely do so -- they wouldn't need an entire studio with a massive headcount for it.

Little bit disappointing but then after MSNBC I was surprised they were getting into it again.

Wouldn't have been good anyway

The difference is they already had 30 million paying subscribers. It would be smart to have a library of exclusive or first run content to keep subscribers locked in and new consumers willing to pay for an Xbox subscription. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu gets this yet Xbox and it's users seem clueless to the importance of exclusive/first-run streaming content. Xbox is slowly slowly spiraling down the toilet with the rest of Microsoft's consumer-facing efforts.

The article and title is a bit misleading. If you read his actual memo in the source, he states they are simply closing XES (their OWN studio) and some of the programs that were in the early phases in that particular studio... they are not cancelling original TV programming plans all together. They are simply going to focus on providing the Xbox platform and service while their partner studios (such as 343 Industries) will provide the original content. That makes sense because XES was a big unnecessary added expense to Microsoft, and it makes sense from a quality and cost perspective to instead pay other studios to make the programming instead. Good move.

So they've gone back on pretty much EVERYTHING from their E3 2013 presentation. Hahaha.

At least they have some leadership which seems to not be total idiots right now.

Perhaps, it doesn't look good though. At least space these decisions out a big - and the Xbox TV initiative was announced after Ballmer retired and Phil took over Xbox, if i'm not mistaken about the timeline. Not trying to nitpick, it really just doesn't look good - even if delaying action costs the company money, i'd do it. Business isn't all about profit, brand image counts more long term

The article appears to have mislead people here.
MS are closing off their own Xbox studio. Like most show creators they will be using other studios to create and produce original content.

This will have zero affect on this content.

The TV thing was 20 years too late imho, golden Era was 1990-2006 ish, nowadays there's 20 shows about the same things with slightly different actors lolllllllllllllllllllllllll (all csi, FYI etc shows)

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