Ensemble boss Bruce Shelley has broken the company's silence on their recent closure by owners Microsoft, and while he's largely diplomatic on the issue, he's also honest enough to let us know that it was a shock, that it sucks, and offers a few extra reasons as to why the studio was shut down.
Everyone at our studio was shocked, and I think remains very disappointed that this is going to happen. 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.
Shelley also reveals that Ensemble was, per capita, the most expensive first-party studio Microsoft were running, and that the studio's plans for a new office building perhaps played a small part in the decision to shutter them as well. Most interesting/sad, however, is the revelation by the long-time PC gaming God that while the majority of the Ensemble brains trust will be forming a new studio once work is done on Halo Wars, Shelley says "I do not expect to be part of the new company formed after ES is shut down".
Ensemble Studios Closing [Ensemble, thanks Dave!]