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Microsoft may have closed five more internal game studios

Microsoft may be making more changes to its internal Xbox and Windows 10 game developer studios than first announced. The company has confirmed it will be closing Lionhead Studios in the UK and Press Play in Denmark, but the Microsoft Studios website has quietly been edited to remove five more studios from the list, along with the Project Spark team.

The changes to the website page was first spotted by Videogamer.com and appear to have been made around the same time as the Lionhead and Press Play shutdown news. The list of missing teams includes the Candian studio BigPark, which released some Kinect-based games for the Xbox 360.

In fact, the other four missing teams (Function Studios, Good Science, LXP and SOTA) have all been linked in the past with either released or unannounced Kinect-based games for Microsoft's consoles. It's more than possible that Microsoft's move to de-emphasize the Kinect sensor in the Xbox One has led them to shut down those studios that were working on Kinect games.

The removal of Project Spark, which was Microsoft's attempt to launch a game creation tool, was expected. The company announced several months ago they were no longer going to offer paid DLC content for Project Spark and that it would be completely free to download and use.

The 10 remaining teams and groups listed on the Microsoft Studios site include Microsoft Casual Games, Xbox Fitness, ID@Xbox, Microsoft Studios Global Publishing, the UK-based Lift London and Rare, Minecraft studio Mojang, Forza developer Turn 10, Gears of War developer The Coalition and Microsoft's main Halo studio 343 Industries.

74 Comments
  • Hmmm, this doesn't bode well if true. I thought MS was going for original internal IPs but with these closures I cant see how this will happen?
  • These are studios that were effectively dead already. Fable was taking too long and these studios were supporting a device that Mirosoft itself stopped supporting.
  • So true. Felt like Fable Legends was in beta for a lifetime. Wonder if it even had that big of a dev team to begin with.
  • Lol not to mention how unstable type c is(read reviews on amazon) cant say id rush over to buy something unproven yet
  • No. I'd rather they didn't. I use continuum regularly and don't want it to get dropped. Also I'd rather have iOS apps than Android apps if we're going for porting.
  • Technically you're losing this argument at this point wpkev, more Yays than you're lone negative neh
  • I've been using continuum daily the last few weeks personally WPkevin.
    I am somebody that wants and uses the continuum feature, thanks
  • @wpkevin, just because you deem just three people within the immediate vicinity of your bubble use continuum / kinect doesn't translate as 3 people in the entire planet :P.
  • @wpkevin, Microsoft didn't build enough value (mind share and games) for the kinect and the fact the bundle made it great deal more expensive the PS4 didn't help either. Not to mention out of the gate the PS4 was in more markets.
  • Sory, but Microsoft from one end to another was in BETA all the time, we are waiting, everything is pushed, we cant decide to buy new devices, phones or tablets, we don´t know what is the next. Tommorow phones and tablets are closed down. I´m really near to change everything to Samsung devices, we can use all MS apps there. But I´m not happy about that, I´m actually a real MS fan, maybe was. I will think about it few weeks. Then I change al devices to Huawei or Samsung, about 12 devices. Huawei Mate 8 and Samsung Edge 7 looks like amazing devices, well working with MS apps. I´m so sad about Microsoft and the way they act now, but okay we can live without them.
  • Warning, ASSUMPTIONS follow! This makes sense from a business point of view, if they are being honest about integrating the devs/staff into other studios. I see this as a chance to remove redundent positions, likely at the management and support levels. This could mean an expansion of the remaining development studios. IF that is the case, they will still have the resources to support original IPs.
  • Not only this, which i believe is pretty on point, but they also dont NEED to own the studios that develop their IP. By subbing out the development you minimize the risk to yourself and often times allowing those studios to be themselves results in a better end product.
  • I wait for the day the CEO kills off Xbox division just like he did with windows phone. /troll
  • Nadella is on record just like Elop, saying that xbox shouldn't be part of MS. It all goes to his desire to see MS turn into the next IBM, and haven't they done a LOT over the lat 10 years.
  • Yep, IBM just laid off 1/3 of their employees.  
  • Real shame. At least fitness is still there. An underrated app, Imo.
  • Good.
  • Back at it again with the surprises..:/
  • There's a rumor going around that Microsoft is going to sell Xbox :( Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • There are ponies around that are waging a console war, yes. That's all. MS can't sell Xbox, it's too integrated with MS. What, are they gonna hand over the Windows source code?
    MS's biggest problem right now in the consumer business are trolls. Also, they are profitable. Why would you sell something that is profitable?
  • To make a bigger profit......duh!!! Companies sell out to other companies all the time.
  • if Microsoft sell Xbox then they are out of gaming since the way they treat PC  they arent going to make any profit and make them worse than EA and Ubisoft
  • Its been going around for years.
  • That's completely illogical. Gaming is one of Microsoft's bigging revenue soures. http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-microsoft-apple-where-does-the-money... I wouldn't expect anyone to seriously believe Microsoft would sell Xbox outside of a neogaf thread.  
  • Saw that article also, something about it would provide a boost to the stock. In the eyes of these shareholders, it's all about what makes the stock go up.
  • Yes, but it's also true that conversation is been around for several years now so I hope it's just that... Talk Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Xbox selling had long been rumored. I think bill gates was rumored to want to sell it, Stephen elop was rumored to sell it if he became CEO. Don't think Ballmer was going to and seems like nadella just gonna hang onto everything for the time being and drop things as they fail.
  • Shut up.
  • Maybe they will put them to use on hololens teams.
  • Its called consolidation
  • Thanks, that helps. I'm sure all the developers who have been "consolidated" feel better now.  
  • Im sure white knighting for them on the internet is making it better too
  • It stinks for the people who were let go, but Kinect has far more value in other areas than gaming.  Kinect 'games' were often uninspired, sloppy, unfun affairs, and Microsoft is wise not to keep wasting money on making more.
  • That and we don't have any... I mean, come on, how do we not have a freaking golf game. I was sold on Kinect (and still am) but the lack of support is disgusting.
  • Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall as soon as the market overwhelmingly voted with their dollars NOT to buy the initial release of the Xbox One (which cost more because every console came with the kinect). Either MS could have kept with that strategy and lost more ground vs. the PS4, or they could change gears, as they did, and start selling the One by itself.   The problem with the choice they made is that, if you can no longer guarantee that everyone has a Kinect, the idea of trying to make a game for Kinect is significantly less attractive.
  • Oh, I know. I am just not happy about it :)
  • "the market overwhelmingly voted with their dollars NOT to buy the initial release of the Xbox One" You mean the market that overwhelmingly bought the Xbox One at a faster pace than they bought an Xbox 360 when it launched (without Kinect, I might add)? Microsoft's biggest mistake was focusing too much on Xbox One sales vs. PS4 sales instead of seeing what really mattered: Xbox One with Kinect was outselling Xbox 360 without Kinect, which had outsold the original Xbox. Their brand was growing and in a sad, misguided overreaction to the Playstation market, they killed off all of their advantages and distinguishing features, wasted untold amounts of money in sunk costs in Kinect, shattered confidence with and vexed their early adopters, and now have nothing but a boring clone of the PS4 that is still getting outsold 2:1. The Xbox One Day One edition was far more interesting than the Xbox One 2016 edition.
  • Kinect is over, deal.
  • There are far more third party developers for non-kinect games.
    Microsoft needed to ditch kinect to appease developers and consumers.
  • Kinect and non-Kinect game development can co-exist and has for years. Why would Microsoft need to "ditch Kinect to appease developers and consumers"? What developers and consumers would care whether Microsoft supports more than one type of genre or not? Certainly not a real developer or gamer.
  • @coip, it was the price too they didn't build enough value for the Kinect to warrant the additional top up price. Plus you had the entire launch fiasco combined with "how much more powerful the ps4 is". So with all that it's hardly surprising to be honest.
  • There is no question that Microsoft completely failed to lead Kinect development like they needed to. There is no excuse for that. However, despite the lack of content, and despite the increased price, and despite the PS4's specs, the Xbox One was significantly outselling the Xbox 360 at the same point in time, and at that same point in time Xbox 360 didn't have any competition (PS3  hadn't launched yet). In short, Xbox One was doing great--better than any other Xbox before that. It was interesting and innovative. Microsoft ruined all that by overreacting to the PS4's sales instead of focusing on how well Xbox One was doing in comparison to Xbox 360, they stripped out everything that differentiated the Xbox One from the PS4 and the result of that is that they 1. screwed over Kinect fants, 2. are falling further behind in sales now, 3. and wasted a ton of money on sunk costs for Kinect.
  • They should buy Iron Galaxy
  • Everything for Android and iOS.... and guess what I'm happy with my used LG G3
  • What does this have to do with anything in the article?
  • Obviously easy to please. You can be even more happy :)
  • I think Microsoft should buy Rockstar Games now (which is of course impossible) to improve in gaming now.. Or maybe.. Ubisoft.. Cuz it's also kind of struggling these days...
  • Rock star won't sell themselves in millions. They are very big. And spending billions for one game would bd stupid of it doesn't have a scope in developing something in future. Look it like an investment its not at all an investment. Microsoft is also becoming a publisher for gaming companies to launch their games on Xbox platform. I don't think so they would buy Rockstar. Imagine then PlayStation users would sorry of they would get the next gta 5 or else it would be Xbox exclusive. And ranting would get started that Microsoft is ruining console gaming too.
  • Rockstar is owned by someone else anyway.
  • Take-Two Interactive= Rockstar Games.
  • It was a TROLL, I have written in the bracket (which is impossible) Microsoft cannot afford Rockstar Games.
  • Microsoft is sitting on enough cash to buy Rockstar and Ubisoft.
    Not worth it for them
  • Lionhead's best titles were in the 90s amd early 2000s. Fable 1 was, next to KOTOR and Battlefront 1, what I grew up playing and replaying. But Fable 2 was mediocre, and Fable 3 was really bad. Not going to miss them, tbh.
  • Fable 2 was mediocre
    Whoa... No, 3 definitely was, but 2 was not
  • Fable 1 was decent. Rest were mediocre.
  • This should be dark march... its a sad day for gaming. A sad day for xbox. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Microsoft is a software developer and that being said, they should be opening MORE studios, not closing them. This shows a lack of drive and ambition.
  • So they close some underperforming studios, nothing here says they aren't expanding the ones they still have or even looking at new ones. This is normal business practice. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • These were all Kinect studios, dead in the water anyway. Now they can focus on real IP and bring us better games.
  • Kinect games were better games: they're innovative and fresh. The last thing we need is more couch-and-controller knockoffs and clones. We've been gaming like that since the 1970s. Adding more pixels to the same rehashed genres is not "better games". Doing something new, like Kinect, is far more interesting.
  • Kinect isn't new. Motion gaming was stale and uninteresting back in 2008. Gamers don't want to play games by swining their arms around, deal with it.
  • Mainstream gaming with a controller dates back four decades and is stale as hell. Mainstream, hands-free, motion-controlled is barely a half a decade old and is far more interesting than doing the same thing we've been doing since the 1970s. Plenty of people want to play motion-controlled games. Deal with that.
  • If that was true Kinect wouldnt have been axed. Damn you're in denial over this. I bet you were one of those "Kinect is an integral part of the Xbox One and will NEVER be unbundled from the system" guys.  
  • Right, because no successful product has ever been canceled before (rolls eyes). Know reality. Xbox One was far more interesting when Kinect was a required part of it. It's just a boring PS4 clone now, and they've (deservedly) fallen further behind in sales ever since the unbundling.
  • Motion gaming was stale in 1988. Nobody wanted it then, nobody wanted it now ... Most people who play games do not even like to move period
  • What? First Nokia and now this?
  • Son of a... Damn.
  • I know a lot of people want Xbox sold off but I thought that Xbox several functions for Microsoft. It makes money for the company.  It gives Microsoft a coolness factor with younger consumers.  It gives Microsoft visibility on the retail level.  It gets Microsoft into the homes of Apple and Google consumers who might not own any Microsoft products. It diversifies Microsoft's line of products. As long as it turns a profit, I can't see Microsoft selling it off.
  • What happened to Twisted Pixel?
  • MS spun them off last year.
  • I'm really sad about Lionhead but the other studios haven't really offered anything of note and unfortunately looked doomed after te Kinect unbundling. I expect MS to launch a new studio soon with a more focused team. The right strategy is to focus on orginal content - AAA and casual games for the Xbox SERVICE.  
  • Can't say those studioes mean much to me, Kinect's been a failure as a gaming tracker to me. What is disappointing is seeing such a weak variety of stuff in-house. I don't even know what Microsoft Casual Games, Microsoft Studios Global Publishing, and Lift London do. Xbox Fitness, though neat, could be next up to get axed with Kinect's regression from the forefront, as I can't imagine giving people the free workouts leads to a lot of income on paid ones. It seems shooting and racing are all we can REALLY expect from MS now. Sea of Thieves is very vague, and it's been some time since Rare's done something new and good, so expecting greatness is risky. The RPG and sports genres are really lacking within MS.
  • Nadella will prioritize PlayStation. MS is software company after all and Sony platform is the clear market leader.
  • Okay. This isn't as bad as I first thought. I am sad to hear about Fable Legends and all of the people that will be losing their jobs though.