Xbox Entertainment Studios to close as Microsoft reduces focus on original TV shows

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Microsoft says it will close its Xbox Entertainment Studios as part of the broader cutbacks announced by the company earlier today.

Shows that are already in production will continue to market, but beyond that the company is backing away from its full-scale push into original television programming.

This is a break from the trend among large technology companies like Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, who have led the push into original programming and in some cases picked up large numbers of subscribers as a result.

See the full statement below from a Microsoft spokesperson.

As Satya said last week, Xbox is important to Microsoft.  Games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world.  And Xbox is a strong consumer brand with an incredible fan base.  As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of the Xbox vision to focus more on games and gamers, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that we will expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months. Nancy Tellem, Jordan Levin and some of the XES team will stay on and remain committed to 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.

Update: Here’s the full text of the internal email sent by top Xbox executive Phil Spencer to employees, obtained by GeekWire, echoing the comments made in the public statement and going into more detail.

“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.

Phil

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  • guest

    Long overdue.

    However, this is not the only housecleaning going on in Xbox-land. Just the biggest.

    • jesse s. pierce

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    • kstagg

      IS it the biggest? Waiting for XBOX to be outsourced to a partner company.

  • http://www.extendedresults.com/ Patrick Husting

    Smart move. Now can you rebuild the Windows Game platform? My kids and their friends are all over Steam.

    • guest

      Yeah, no kidding. Talk about leaving money on the table.

    • balls187

      They tried to rebuild GFWL, and it was horrible.

  • Crapgamer

    This sucks for the people laid off for sure, but the odd part to me is that everyone wanted Microsoft to focus on games with the Xbox and now when they close an entertainment studio and back off entertainment, people are acting like it’s the most terrible thing in the world! Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t I guess.

    Xbox should always be gaming focused first, and I guess now that should be obvious. Hopefully we get less “Cable box” comments in the future.

    • You are flat out wrong

      “Geez, ponies! Don’t you know anything about business? No one wants just games consoles any more! It’s all about entertainment now! Gamers are growing up and they want more value than just greater resolution! Xbox won!”

      One year later

      “I-I never wanted TV shows anyway. It’s all about the games! Even though there were barely any new first party IPs at E3 and Phil Spencer lied to me about megatons. Thank you Phil! Now please port more games over because I have nothing to play.”

      Love it.