Microsoft announced on Thursday that it will be laying off 18,000 employees, which is the most in the company’s history. Included in the cuts, Microsoft is closing the two-year-old Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months.
Xbox Entertainment Studios is responsible for bringing original programming to the platform, such as a show based on the Xbox-exclusive “Halo” games, as well as a reality TV series called “Every Street United,” which launched early last month.
In a statement to Business Insider, Phil Spencer, head of the 200-person Xbox Entertainment Studios, said that programs that are already in production will continue as planned. This includes the “Halo” series, as well as a documentary called “Signal to Noise,” with the first instalment being about the “E.T.” Atari games that were dug up from landfill in April:
Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like ‘NFL on Xbox,’ and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates. Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organizational change.
The move to cut this arm of Xbox’s business and to focus on gaming might not come as much of a surprise. Microsoft made no mention of its original programming plans at its E3 press conference. It’s also trying to play catchup with the PlayStation 4 in terms of sales, although after dropping the price of the Xbox One last month seems to be helping.
On Wednesday, Microsoft reported it sold more than twice as many Xbox Ones in June as it did in May.