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Halo MMO cancelled by Microsoft

Report reveals the nature of the project that had been underway at Ensemble

Ensemble Studios, the team most noted for its work on the Age of Empires franchise, and which two weeks ago learned that it would be shut down by parent company Microsoft, had been working on a Halo MMO - a project that is now cancelled.

The title, which according to Gamasutra, had been in development from 2006 onwards - although possibly not continually - and could have been one of the projects that Bruce Shelley referred to in a blog post in June this year:

"[We] set up three prototype teams out of the staff of a major project that we cancelled. After six months of very interesting work, we have now stopped two of those prototypes, with one getting more time to demonstrate the value of its concept."

Ensemble, which will close its doors following the completion of Halo Wars next year, will see some of its key staff move to set up a new company, with an as-yet-undisclosed title strategy that will see it work closely with Microsoft.

Shelley, one of Ensemble's iconic team members, this week wrote of his shock and disappointment at the studio's closure.

"Everyone at our studio was shocked, and I think remains very disappointed that this is going to happen," he said. "I believe we thought we were immune to shut-down talk because our published games have done so well and have been so profitable.

"Plus we felt we had built a really stable (low-turnover), talented, hard-working, and creative team, which is not easy to do. We thought we were among the best studios in the world, and that may be true, but we don't fit in the future plans of MGS as an internal studio so we're out," he added.

Despite the cancellation of the Halo MMO project the franchise is still a primary focus for Microsoft - owner of the IP - and MGS chief Phil Spencer recently toldGamesIndustry.biz that "There are more than two or three teams building Halo things right now".

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