Crunch culture killed Ensemble Studios

March 15, 2010 by Ivan Cronyn  
Filed under PC, Playstation, Xbox

Ensemble Studios, creators of the Age of Empires PC strategy games and Halo Wars on the Xbox 360, was closed due to problems with the corporate culture. Speaking at GDC, Paul Bettner, a 12-year veteran at Ensemble, refused to blame Microsoft for the closure of the developer.

“Microsoft is a public company, they answer to their shareholders, and we were simply too expensive.”

In his impassioned talk during the “rants” session, Bettner, now working at iPhone developer NewToy, blamed himself for the cost, inefficiency and poor quality of life caused by Ensemble’s dependence on long, “crunch” working hours.

Ensemble had a company culture where “everyone was a workaholic”, developers worked late and slept at the office, and were addicted to the rush of success of the Age of Empires series.

“I watched this happen and I did almost nothing to stop it. As an employee, and later as a manager, I didn’t take a stand. I just kept hoping for that next high,” Bettner said.

Xbox Live Marketplace Upcoming Releases

January 26, 2010 by Andy Giff  
Filed under News, Xbox

Splosion Man is a great platformer on XBLA from Indie developers Twisted Pixel released last Summer

Major Nelson has posted another blog post detailing some of the biggest releases on Xbox Live Marketplace in the next couple of weeks.

There’s some cool stuff on there, like the Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack 2 for those who didn’t buy ODST, and a few more Games on Demand, but the highlight for me has to be Splosion Man as the deal of the week. If you haven’t downloaded this neat little platformer already (why not!?) then 400MSP is an absolute steal. I would highly recommend at least downloading the trial with a view to a purchase, as it is probably one of the most fun games on XBLA.

Here’s the list:

Xbox LIVE Deal of the Week:

Feb. 1: Splosion Man, 400 Microsoft Points

Xbox LIVE Games on Demand:

Jan. 26: Dead Rising and Halo Wars

Feb. 2: Medal of Honor: Airborne

Xbox LIVE Arcade:

Jan. 27: KrissX, 800 Microsoft Points

Feb. 3: Chime, 400 Microsoft Points

Xbox Avatars Marketplace:

Jan. 28: Assassin’s Creed
Feb. 4 : Valentine’s Day and Carnival collections

Game Add-Ons

Jan. 27: Pinball FX Excalibur Table, 240 Microsoft Points

Jan. 28: Assassin’s Creed II: Battle of Forli, 320 Microsoft Points

Feb. 2: Halo 3 Mythic 2 Map Pack, 800 Microsoft Points