The veteran game designer Bruce Shelley, who worked on classics such as Sid Meier's Railroad Tyccoon, and Civilization, before setting up Ensemble Studios and create the very popular Age of Empires series, has commented on the closure of Ensemble Studios on his blog.
"A senior executive of MGS addressed the studio in early September and gave us the news. He did not go into a lot of detail about why, but basically the decision, as I understand it, was based on several major factors. First, they want to divert the headcount tied up in ES and the costs that are expected to be required to run ES for the next few years into other projects. Second, it sounded like it cost more to run ES on a per person basis than other first party studios (Rare, Lionhead, Forza, Flight Sim) putting us at a disadvantage. (Plus they avoid the expense of a new office that we were planning.) And third, games those studios are expected to deliver in the next few years are expected to be more strategic and profitable to the company than anything we would be finishing after Halo Wars."
Shelley also goes on to say that he will not join the new studio with former Ensemble employees that studio head Tony Goodman plans to set up, and that will service Halo Wars after its release.