Ensemble Studios
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
Founded1994; 30 years ago (1994)
FounderTony Goodman
DefunctJanuary 29, 2009; 15 years ago (2009-01-29)
HeadquartersDallas, Texas, U.S.
ProductsAge of Empires
Age of Mythology
Halo Wars
ParentMicrosoft Game Studios

Ensemble Studios was an American video game developer. It was founded by Tony Goodman in 1994 and incorporated the following year. It borrowed the name of Ensemble Corporation, a consulting firm founded by Goodman in 1990.[1] It was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 and operated as an internal studio until 2009, when its development capabilities were officially disbanded.[2] Ensemble developed many real-time strategy games, including the Age of Empires game series, Age of Mythology, and Halo Wars. 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. The studio sold 20 million games and was worth an estimated $500 million.[3]


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[4] expansion pack
2009 Halo Wars real-time strategy
Cancelled Titan (Halo MMO)[5][6] massively multiplayer online game
Sorcerer[7] fantasy-adventure RPG
Wrench[7][8] platform game

Closure and legacy

In 1998, Rick Goodman left Ensemble Studios and started a new independent studio, Stainless Steel Studios.

In 2000, Brian Sullivan left Ensemble Studios and started a new independent studio, Iron Lore Entertainment, to develop the action role-playing game Titan Quest.

In 2001, Microsoft acquired Ensemble Studios[9] for $100 million.[10] Ensemble remained at their original location in a high rise office in Dallas, Texas, until April 2008 when Microsoft moved them to the Shops at Legacy in Plano, the same location as GearBox Software.[citation needed] Their office was 50,000 square feet and designed to house 120 employees.[11]

In 2008, Ensemble announced that it would close after the release of Halo Wars in 2009. According to multiple independent reports, all non-essential staff were laid off and remaining staff were given incentives to remain until the completion of the project.[12] Microsoft issued an internal statement on September 10, 2008 which was then leaked to the public.[13]

The company shut down on January 29, 2009.[14] It was also stated that there are at least two new studios being formed by ES employees.[15]

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.[16]

Following the announcement of Robot Entertainment, former Ensemble Studios producer David Rippy started a new independent studio, Bonfire Studios, composed entirely of former Ensemble staff members.[17] Bonfire was later renamed Zynga Dallas through its acquisition by Zynga and released only one game as an independent company.

In 2008, a third studio called Newtoy, Inc. was created by several developers from Ensemble,[18] which released Chess With Friends for the iPhone in November 2008,[19] and Words With Friends in August 2009.[20] Newtoy was also acquired by Zynga and renamed Zynga With Friends, a moniker off of Newtoy's successful 'with friends' series. Newtoy released two games while they were independent.

In March 2009, a fourth studio, Windstorm Studios, was founded by ex-staffer Dusty Monk as a one-man company.[21] Dusty Monk later closed this studio on March 21, 2012 and joined Robot Entertainment with his former co-workers.[22]

In June 2013, a fifth studio emerged, Boss Fight Entertainment,[23] founded by previous employees of Ensemble Studios and Zynga Dallas. Boss Fight Entertainment is located in McKinney, Texas and is developing games for mobile platforms. The studio was acquired by Netflix Inc. in 2022.[24]


  1. ^ Keefer, John (March 31, 2006). "GameSpy Retro: Developer Origins, Page 18 of 19". GameSpy. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007.
  2. ^ "Microsoft to acquire Ensemble Studios". GameSpot. Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2001.
  3. ^ "The Death of Ensemble Studios". Edge. Future plc. February 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  4. ^ Co-developed with Big Huge Games.
  5. ^ "Exclusive: Ensemble Studios' Canceled Project Was Halo MMO". GamaSutra. September 23, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2008.
  6. ^ "Ensemble Games prototype; 2005-2007 (Pictures)". Flickr. December 9, 2007. Retrieved September 24, 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d e Zelfden, Evan Van (February 2, 2009). "Ensemble Studios: The Last Tour". Gamasutra. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
  8. ^ "Ensemble Studios - "Wrench" Prototype Graphics/Physics Demo". youtube.com. October 9, 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  9. ^ "Dallas creators of PC gaming hit Age of Empires bought by Microsoft". Dallas Business Journal. May 4, 2001. Retrieved January 28, 2016. Microsoft Corp. has agreed to buy Ensemble Studios Inc., the Dallas-based software developer responsible for the top-selling Age of Empires game franchise. Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., said Friday that Ensemble will continue to create titles from its Dallas headquarters.
  10. ^ Tanner, Lisa (February 17, 2008). "Ensemble's success spurred acquisition by Microsoft". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Webster, Stephen (December 27, 2007). "Ensemble Studios moving to Plano". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved January 28, 2016. Ensemble Studios ... plans to relocate its operations to the Shops at Legacy in Plano, according to published reports.
  12. ^ "Ensemble Studios rumoured to be closing". Shacknews. September 9, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  13. ^ "Read the 'Ensemble Studios, You're Done Here' Email from Microsoft". Kotaku. September 10, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  14. ^ "Bruce Shelley : Halo Wars on Schedule - Wrapping up Soon". Ensemble Studios Blog. Archived from the original on January 19, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
  15. ^ "Bruce Shelley : Ensemble Studios Closing". Ensemble Studios Blog. Archived from the original on November 18, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
  16. ^ "Ensemble Veterans Form Robot Entertainment". Gamasutra. February 13, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  17. ^ "Ensemble Veterans Assemble Bonfire". Gamasutra. February 20, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  18. ^ "Newtoy". newtoyinc.com. Archived from the original on November 10, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  19. ^ Snow, Jean (November 14, 2008). "Halo Wars Devs Form iPhone Game Studio". wired.com. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  20. ^ "Newtoy releases Words With Friends 1.0 for iPhone and iPod Touch". prmac.com. August 5, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  21. ^ "Third New Studio Emerges From Ensemble Closure". Gamasutra. March 19, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  22. ^ "Windstorm Studios - Home". Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  23. ^ Takahashi, Dean (February 3, 2014). "Venture Beat: Leaders of the undead Zynga Dallas team start Boss Fight Entertainment". VentureBeat. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  24. ^ Spangler, Todd (March 24, 2022). "Netflix Acquires Its Third Game Studio, Boss Fight Entertainment". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2022.