Ensemble Founder: Bungie Saw "Halo Wars" as a "Whoring Out of Their Franchise"
Ensemble founder Tory Goodman speaks regarding the failure of Halo Wars.
The Halo franchise isn't all about first-person shooters, if you didn't know -- or didn't remember -- Halo Wars, an RTS, was released in 2009 by Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires).
Sadly, the game did not live up to the franchise's lofty name; especially when it comes to sales. So what happened exactly? As it turns out, Halo Wars was never meant to be a Halo game. But this was insisted upon by Microsoft's top brass and this insistence led to all sorts of friction between Ensemble, Microsoft and the former Halo developers over at Bungie.
In an interview with GamesIndustry, Tony Goodman, founder of the now-defunct Ensemble Studios, states that Microsoft attached the Halo name due to the risks of making a strategy game for consoles.
Microsoft was pretty risk averse and they said, "I don't know if we want to take the risk of creating strategy games on a console. We'd feel better if Halo were attached to it."
Goodman admits this step took the game back about a year in development and it never turned out the same. However Microsoft noted to Ensemble,"Why don't you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?"
As if that wasn't bad enough, it was even made worse by the tension building between Ensemble and former Halo devs Bungie. While Bungie didn't have the manpower to build the game themselves, the studio, according to Goodman, didn't appreciate the IP being used in another title for a different genre.
Another problem was that Bungie was never up for it... Bungie was kind of sore about the idea. What they called it was 'the whoring out of our franchise' or something. Yeah, that didn't create a great relationship between us and Bungie; they viewed us as someone infringing [on their franchise]
Whatever the case was, Halo Wars never met the same level of success as Bungie's games and Ensemble paid the price as Halo Wars was the studio's last game before they were shuttered down by Microsoft.
Have you played Halo Wars? Was Bungie or Microsoft to blame for the game's fate or did Ensemble simply made a game that wasn't good enough? Sound off and let us know.