Representatives from Microsoft have confirmed that the company closed its sports video game studio in Redmond, laying off 76 employees.
According to spokeswoman Molly O’Donnell, there is no longer any need for the company to produce so many games itself. “The business has grown and a vibrant ecosystem of third-party developers has emerged. These developers are filling the pipeline with an abundance of great games," O'Donnell said.
Microsoft's game development group grew from 350 employees to a peak of 1,200 after the Xbox was launched. This number was down to 1,000 earlier this year.
According to division chief Robbie Bach, "When we got to that point, we started looking around and started realizing, wait, we've got tons of third-party support, we shouldn't be the bulk game provider."
When the company cancelled most of its 2004 XSN sports titles earlier this year, it hinted that the various franchises would return in 2005. Now it's clear that this will not happen.
A separate studio in Utah that produces the more successful Links
golf game and Amped
snowboard game is unaffected by the cuts.
Source: The Seattle Times