As Microsoft sheds employees, it's also shedding aspirations to produce original content: Xbox Entertainment Studios is shutting down. Xbox chief Phil Spencer released the news today on the heels of Microsoft's announcement that it will lay off 18,000 employees.
Xbox Entertainment Studios was created in 2012 to help Microsoft create original entertainment content, but it appears Microsoft is shelving its hopes to produce an Xbox-branded version of Orange is the New Black. Some of the series currently in production will continue, like the upcoming live action, Stephen Spielberg-produced series based on Halo. The fate of some of the other upcoming projects, like the show from Sarah Silverman-led comedy collective Jash, remains up in the air.
By shuttering Xbox Entertainment Studios, Microsoft is bowing out of the increasingly overcrowded race between media companies to create original programming. As Netflix, Amazon, Yahoo, Hulu and other companies put more emphasis on developing original content, Microsoft's decision to tap out may indicate it's just too expensive and risky. That's especially notable because Microsoft had the advantage of a pre-existing Xbox user base, as well as strong brand recognition for many games it planned to spin out into other entertainment formats.
Maybe if Halo turns into a hit, the company will continue to pursue other original content options — but for now, it looks like the original content gold rush has lost at least one scrambling media company that was digging for hits. [Variety]
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