It's Games, Games, Games As Microsoft Plans To Close Xbox TV Division

It's Games, Games, Games As Microsoft Plans To Close Xbox TV Division

Less than three months after Microsoft had a big splashy debut for its Xbox Entertainment Studios division, the company is shutting down the unit tasked with making original TV shows for their game console. Re/Code reports that the shutdown comes as part of a massive restructuring that will see Microsoft eliminating 18,000 jobs over the next 12 months.

Xbox Entertainment Studios was the tech giant's attempt to enter the internet-first original programming landscape that's seen successes like Netflix's Orange Is the Black and House of Cards. Shows in the pipeline were being produced by award-wining documentary filmmakers and the creators of Robot Chicken. But the XES efforts that did make it out of the gate never seemed to capture the public's attention. Now it seems much of the development slate won't be happening, according to a memo by Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer. The company will still be pursuing app partnerships with video content partners like Hulu, but will be directing their internal creative energies to making video games.

Here's the memo, via an email supplied to Kotaku:

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.


    Well, so much for anyone who bought an XB1 partially on the strength of that then, and I feel bad for the staff that signed on to do something new that are all now looking for work so soon after starting.

    Last edited 18/07/14 9:23 am

      That would be too bad for nobody I would imagine.

      Terrible for the staff, but to me the idea always seemed bad.
      I got the feeling that all the MS developed content was going to end up like those really bad straight to DVD movies that the WWE produces.

      Leave the TV to the TV companies, i'd much rather they focused on games and aquiring good content from other places.

      I don't believe anyone in Australia was under the belief that all the TV integration bullshit was going to work here. They bought a console to play games on.

        I'm sorry but I have really crap Internet speeds and I had no problem watching Every Street United... the tv stuff is pretty underated... most people on my friends list use the sbs app though hahaha

    But TV! TV! TV! TV! TV! SPORTS! SPORTS! SPORTS! SPORTS! According to E3 2 years ago anyhow...

    But seriously, good to see they're getting their shit together.

    Bad to see 18,000 jobcuts are coming :(

    wow really.... Jesus that's a 180 for them gone are the days of "TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, COD, SPORTS, TV, TV" rapidly losing faith in Microsoft because the cant commit to anything...

      Well now it's "... ... ... COD COD COD ... ... SPORTS SPORTS ... SPORTS ... COD".

      Also, wasnt the "TV TV TV" bit neutered/not fully working for Australia anyway?

        If you rely on using Australian networks. VPN = king

          True, but I dont think that was MS' intention/hopes when they released it here

            releasing anything in this barren wasteland run by religious technology fearing kooks is a spray and pray... cant wait to get out of this hole.

        I stream all my TV shows through XB1 IE so it still will be TV,TV,TV,Titanfall for me lol.....i don't even have my antenna pluged into my TV to be honest.

    It was a bold move on their part, but a bit of market research might have told them that most purchase game consoles for games. The reaction from the XB1s debut told them that. Feel bad for all those jobs that are now going down the drain.

    All in One not anymore. Majority of the job losses are from Nokia not Microsoft or Xbox.

      Which is sad i just switched from an iPhone to a Nokia Lumia about 2 months ago and im loving it.

    Good news definitely a change in the right direction.....good to see them making positive changes.

    No mention of Spielberg produced Halo TV show?!

    It always was a stupid idea for them to produce exclusive TV content because if it would have been any good, it would have been BitTorrented straight to your PC and PS.

      I believe Showtime have the rights and are producing that show, not Xbox.

    Farewell to the "all in one" Xbox, here comes the "one trick pony".

    Anyone who bought a day one based on e3 expectations, you have been left to rot. Do not expect Microsoft to allocate resources to anything but making the Xbox work better without Kinect for the rest of the year...

    Seriously who purchased or was going to purchase the XBone to replace their cable box?

    I have a PVR, Blu-Ray player and a TV with a Free to Air Tuner in it. I am buying an XBone to play games not replace those items. After seeing the difference between using a $99 Blu Ray player and a PS3 I'd advise people to pay $99 for a cheap Blu Ray player rather than hope to get one machine to do everything.

    Admittedly I haven't seen the PS4 as a Blu Ray Player, but spending 30 minutes (probably exagerating here.) updating every time we tried to Watch a Movie in the PS3 got old fast.

    I was interested in the origional programming stuff... I'm a gamer, but I'm not against a value add.

    I think a lot of people are discounting how much use the 360 saw as a Netflix/HBO/Hulu box in the US.
    I do wonder why they need a company of 200 people for it though. Surely a team of 30 people could have done deals with content production companies to generate the kinds of things Netflix and HBO come up with.

    In reading some of the stories about this though, it just sounds like the typical Microsoft thing of coming up with an idea and then just not following through on the execution. They hire Nancy Tellum, at was undoubtably a great expense, then let her employ a team. Meanwhile they don't work out how to monetise the program, nor do they establish a longer term plan for the brand. Then they review where everything is at a few years later and realise that they've spent money and seen no return... so they close the thing down.

    I don't understand the sentiments from people here that indicate MS is shifting their focus away from the Xbone as an entertainment device. They're simply shutting down their studios that make original TV content, they don't say anything about not being a content device anymore.

    Not that I care either way, I use mine for games mainly and a bit of YouTube and SBS.

    Last edited 18/07/14 11:58 pm

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