Ensemble Studios
Former typeSubsidiary of Microsoft
SuccessorRobot Entertainment </br> Bonfire Studios
HeadquartersDallas, Texas
Key peopleTony Goodman
Rick Goodman
Graeme Devine
IndustryVideo game industry
ProductsAge of Empires
Age of Mythology
Halo Wars

Originally founded as an independent developer in 1995, Ensemble Studios was a Microsoft-owned developer from 2001 to 2009, when it was officially disbanded.[1] Ensemble has developed many games including the Age of Empires game series. In addition to game development, Ensemble Studios also made the Genie Game Engine used in Age of Empires, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.


Ensemble Studios developed the Age of Empires game series of real-time strategy titles, comprising Age of Empires, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and Age of Empires III. They also released Age of Mythology, a spin-off from the original series. Expansion packs were also released for all their games including two for Age of Empires III. Their last release was the real-time strategy game called Halo Wars for Xbox 360.

Title Genre
1997 Age of Empires real-time strategy
1998 Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome expansion pack
1999 Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings real-time strategy
2000 Age of Empires II: The Conquerors expansion pack
2002 Age of Mythology real-time strategy
2003 Age of Mythology: The Titans expansion pack
2005 Age of Empires III real-time strategy
2006 Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs expansion pack
2007 Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties[2] expansion pack
2009 Halo Wars real-time strategy
Cancelled Untitled Halo Project[3][4] massively multiplayer online game
Sorcerer[5] fantasy-adventure RPG
Wrench[5] platform game

Recent news

Ensemble released Age of Empires III, on October 18, 2005, in North America. The game follows from the end of Age of Empires II, set in times such as the Industrial Age. The lead-up to the game's announcement was a series of teasers on Ensemble's website, culminating in a number of in-game screenshots. The game has sold over 2 million copies, as of October 2007,[citation needed] and has become the fastest selling game of the series.

Afterward, development began on the first expansion pack to Age of Empires III titled Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs. It included new content, new gameplay elements, a new single-player campaign, and three new native American civilizations. It was originally set for an October 2, 2006 release, but was released later, on October 17, 2006.[6]

On October 23, 2007, Ensemble released a second, and final expansion to Age of Empires III titled Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties.[7] It introduced three Asian civilizations and six minor natives, as well as new gameplay features. They developed this project in conjunction with Big Huge Games, the creators of Rise of Nations.

Ensemble also developed Halo Wars, a real-time strategy game for the Xbox 360 based on the successful Halo franchise. It was released on February 27, 2009 [8] and sold one million copies in less than a month. [9]


On September 9, 2008, it was announced that Ensemble will be closing after the release of Halo Wars. According to multiple independent reports, all non-essential staff have been laid off and remaining staff have been given incentives to remain until the completion of the project.[10] Microsoft issued an internal statement on September 10, 2008 which was then leaked to the public.[11] As reported on the Ensemble Studio blog in late 2008, the company shut down on January 29, 2009. [12] It was also stated that there are at least two new studios being formed by ES employees.[13]

In February 2009 former Ensemble Studios head Tony Goodman started a new independent studio, Robot Entertainment, and a number of the existing employees have been offered a position in this company.[14] Following the announcement of Robot Entertainment, former Ensemble Studios producer David Rippy started a new independent studio, Bonfire Studios, comprised entirely of former Ensemble staff members.[15] In March 2009, a third studio, Windstorm Studios was announced, founded by ex-staffer Dusty Monk.[16]


Ensemble Studios has received a number of awards through the years. Including many for game of the year.

  • Game Spy - 2005 Game of the year - PC RTS
  • Game Spy - 2005 Best Graphics
  • Game Spy - 2005 Best Music – Honorable Mention
  • Game Spy – Best of E3 2005
  • Worth Playing – Editor Choice
  • PCGamers – Editor Choice
  • Game Critics Award – Best of E3 2005
  • Game Zone – Outstanding Award
  • IGN.Com – Editor Choice Award
  • IGN – Best of E3 Award 2005
  • Daily Game - Best of Show E3 2005
  • GT – Gold Medal
  • GamePower Award
  • Strategy Gaming Online – Editors Choice
  • Gamer Voice – Best Wargame
  • GameSpot – Game of the year
  • Gamesmania – Award of Excellence
  • GamesDomain – Readers Award
  • Thresh’s FiringSquad – Editors Choice
  • Computer Gaming World – 5 Stars
  • Computer Gaming World – Editors Choice
  • WarGamer – Award for excellence
  • GamesWeekly – Top 15 of games
  • Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences – Best Strategy Game of the Year
  • GameCenter - 1997 Game of the Year


  1. "Microsoft to acquire Ensemble Studios". GameSpot. Retrieved on May 3, 2001.
  2. Co-developed with Big Huge Games.
  3. "Exclusive: Ensemble Studios' Canceled Project Was Halo MMO" (in English). GamaSutra (September 23, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-09-24.
  4. "Ensemble Games prototype; 2005-2007 (Pictures)". Flickr. Retrieved on 2008-09-24.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Zelfden, Evan Van (February 2, 2009). "Ensemble Studios: The Last Tour" (in English). Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2009-02-03.
  6. "AoE III: The War Chiefs Demo Available". GamerNode. Retrieved on January 30, 2008.
  7. "“Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties” Gets Ready to Expand Into the Eastern World, Goes Gold". Age Community. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.
  8. Radd, David (2009-01-08). "Halo Wars Still Slated for March 3". GameDaily. Retrieved on 2009-02-17.
  9. Crossley, Rod (2009-03-19). "Halo Wars Sells 1m". Edge. Retrieved on 2009-03-25.
  10. "Ensemble Studios rumoured to be closing". Shacknews. Retrieved on September 9, 2008.
  11. "Read the 'Ensemble Studios, You're Done Here' Email from Microsoft". Kotaku. Retrieved on September 10, 2008.
  12. "Bruce Shelley : Halo Wars on Schedule - Wrapping up Soon". Ensemble Studios Blog. Retrieved on January 21, 2009.
  13. "Bruce Shelley : Ensemble Studios Closing". Ensemble Studios Blog. Retrieved on January 21, 2009.
  14. Ensemble Veterans Form Robot Entertainment, Gamasutra, February 13, 2009.
  15. Ensemble Veterans Assemble Bonfire, Gamasutra, February 20, 2009.
  16. Third New Studio Emerges From Ensemble Closure, "Gamasutra", March 19, 2009

External links