An online report suggests Microsoft's in-game advertising unit, Massive, will be shut down before the end of the month.
Ad industry trade publication Adweek cites
"sources close to the company" and "insiders at Microsoft" in reporting that Massive General Manager J.J. Richards has been seeking new employment with other unit members reportedly being reassigned throughout the company.
The report suggests that Microsoft had been shopping around a Massive buyout in the past few months, reportedly seeking a high six-figure or low seven-figure sale to rival ad network Double Fusion.
Microsoft originally acquired the in-game ad firm for a reported $200 to $400 million in 2006
, at the height of excitement
over the new revenue stream for game makers.
But Massive reportedly ran into internal conflicts with Microsoft's Xbox Live team, which sells advertisements directly and doesn't have to share revenue with publishers.
Despite layoffs for 28 percent of Massive's staff
last year, the company continued to sign deals
with major publishers through 2009. But the loss of Electronic Arts, which decided to handle its advertising in-house earlier this year, took a toll on the company.