There’s a major shake-up currently underway at Microsoft. New CEO Satya Nadella is wasting no time in making changes to the company, and this is resulting in the loss of 18,000 jobs over the next twelve months. Yikes.
One of the first listed casualties is the newly formed Xbox Entertainment Studios. Cast your minds back to the initial Xbox One reveal and you’ll remember the massive song-and-dance Microsoft made about the future of TV on Xbox. They were planning on heading down the same path that Netflix has in developing their own TV content that would then be made available exclusively through Xbox LIVE. To aid that, at the beginning of 2013, Microsoft set up Xbox Entertainment Studios under the leadership of ex CBS Television executive Nancy Tellem.
Xbox Entertainment Studios was poised to develop a collection of original TV series collectively known as Xbox Originals. Both the studio and Xbox Originals are now dead.
The good news is that not all of the Xbox Originals have been lost. When the Xbox Originals program was announced, Microsoft revealed that Steven Spielberg and 343 Industries would be creating a Halo TV series for Xbox LIVE. That project is still alive, as is the Ridley Scott produced Halo: Nightfall series. The series Signal to Noise (which focuses on aspects of the video game industry) is also still in production. Only one original series, EveryStreet United, made it to Xbox LIVE before the closure of Xbox Entertainment Studios.
Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, sent out a memo to the Xbox team, which stated that Microsoft will continue to form alliances with media partners across the globe to bring live television to the Xbox One dashboard via various apps. So that plan is still is at least still in place; whether we see any practical application of it in South Africa is debatable. You can read the entire internal memo below:
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.