Officials from Microsoft Game Studios have confirmed that the Digital Anvil studio has been officially closed, with staff being redeployed elsewhere within the organization.
Formed in 1996 by Wing Commander
creator Chris Roberts, the studio produced Dreamcast and PC space combat simulator Starlancer
in 2000 in association with the UK-based Warthog, before being bought out by Microsoft and incorporated into Microsoft Game Studios.
In progress titles Frontier Wars
and Loose Cannon
were promptly sold to French publisher and developer Ubisoft. The former emerged as Conquest: Frontier Wars
by developer Fever Pitch, but the latter never saw a release. Following the purchase by Microsoft, Roberts left the company and remained only as a consultant on subsequent titles Freelancer
and 2003's Xbox-exclusive Brute Force
, the last game released by the studio.
According to a company statement: "Microsoft Game Studios has undergone a redeploying of resources in its Austin, Texas-based Digital Anvil studio and will centralize the studio's resources in Redmond, Washington. We are working closely with current Digital Anvil employees to place each team member in a position on the Microsoft Game Studios team in Redmond if they so choose. This redeployment of resources will be finalized on January 31, 2006."
Following his directorial debut with the Wing Commander movie in 1999, Roberts has gone on to work mainly as a film producer, earning credits on movies such as 2004’s The Punisher and the Nicolas Cage vehicle Lord of War. He is also currently planning to direct a World War I movie named The American Knight.
Roberts founded PNR (Point of No Return) Entertainment and Ascendant Pictures to further his various movie projects, but although the former indicates an intention to develop video games, he has so far failed to make a return to the industry.
[UPDATE: 1.45pm PST 12/02/05 - added note about Warthog's involvement with Starlancer