Microsoft quits the TV business before they even begin

Xbox Entertainment Studios closes but Halo TV series will survive

There is no end of companies getting into original television, from Netflix to Yahoo! Now one tech giant has decided the party has got a bit crowded, and it’s time to bow out early.

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As part of 18,000 job cuts being made at Microsoft, the Seattle based company will shutter its Xbox Entertainment Studios section. This was to have made exclusive television content for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, but is being closed before any of its high profile shows have actually been produced.

Among the studio’s projects was a sci-fi series based on the Halo videogame series, in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. This will apparently still be produced with the help of Halo game developers 343 Industries. Also preserved were the ‘Signal to Noise’ documentary strand, with a first episode covering classic video game company Atari, and Quantum Break, an ambitious ‘transmedia’ sci-fi that combines gaming with scripted drama. These shows were already in production at the time of the studio’s closure.

In a memo to staff, seen by MCVUK, head of Microsoft Xbox Phil Spencer said: “As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organisation’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.” 

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Technology companies view original television as a way of attracting customers, hoping to replicate Netflix’s success with shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Earlier this year Sony Playstation, Microsoft’s direct competitor in the videogame business, announced they would produce an adaptation of the Powers series of comics for their own consoles.