"The team at Ensemble has made invaluable contributions to the games industry with their Age of Empires and Age of Mythology games and with the highly anticipated release of Halo Wars," the publisher said in a statement. "This decision does not reflect at all on Ensemble’s talent or the quality of Halo Wars--in fact, many people who have had a chance to test drive Halo Wars agree that it is on track to being a fantastic game."
Though Microsoft will close the studio, Ensemble brass plan to soldier on. As part of today's statement, the studio said that "the leadership team" will form a new development house, and has already entered into an agreement with Microsoft to continue supporting Halo Wars post-launch, "as well as work on other projects with Microsoft Game Studios."
Commenting on the reason for the closure, Microsoft said, "This was a fiscally rooted decision that keeps MGS on its growth path. While the decision to dissolve Ensemble was not an easy one, Microsoft is working to place as many Ensemble employees who do not move to the newly formed studio into open positions within Microsoft as possible."