Ensemble Studios was a renowned RTS developer owed by Microsoft Game Studios, best known for producing the Age of Empires franchise of games. Ensemble Studios was founded in 1995 in Dallas, Texas to develop PC games. The studio launched with the release of popular RTS game Age of Empires, and produced sequels, expansions and spin-offs to the Age of Empires series for over a decade, until they were tapped by Microsoft to develop the upcoming Halo RTS Halo Wars. Ensemble took on the project, working heavily with both Bungie and Microsoft Game Studios to produce their first ever console RTS. Ensemble strongly insisted that Halo Wars was one of their best titles.
Tragically, despite their work on Halo Wars, on September 9th, 2008 rumors of Ensemble's demise were confirmed - the studio closed following the release of their last project: Halo Wars.
Two new studios rose from the ashes of Ensemble, almost immediately. The first, Robot Entertainment was set up by the founders of Ensemble and the studio was left responsible for the updating, maintenance and serving of Halo Wars, until February 2010 when Microsoft assumed control. The second was Bonfire Studios, created almost entirely of the remaining staff not picked up by Robot. Since then two more studios have been created by ex-Ensemble staffers, Windstorm studios founded by Dusty Monk and Newtoy Games creators of the popular iPhone game Words with Friends.
It was also leaked that Ensemble was working on a Halo MMO in some capacity before their closing, although what role it had in the studio's demise or how far along in development this game was is unknown.