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A month after its first big series, Microsoft says Xbox studio to close

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By Noel Young | Correspondent

July 17, 2014 | 3 min read

Microsoft has announced it is closing Xbox Entertainment Studios - just one month after the digital video studio premiered its first original series coinciding with the World Cup.

XBOX studio to close

The move coincides with the company's announcement that it will lay off 18,000 employees, the largest cutback in its history.

The Santa Monica studio will close as Microsoft focuses on strengthening its core videogame business. Most of Xbox Entertainment’s 200 employees work in southern California and Vancouver.

The company did not say how many would lose their jobs.

Chief Executive Satya, in a lengthy memo to Microsoft staff, expressed support for the Xbox and its importance to the company — but did nor refer to original television programming.

Xbox Entertainment Studios was created when Microsoft hired CBS entertainment president Nancy Tellem less than two years ago. Her mandate: to make entertainment content that could only be found on the Xbox Live online platform.

News of the closure was broken by Re/Code.

Tellem had been hired by CEO Steve Ballmer, who less than a year later announced he would leave the company.

One of its first original shows, the soccer-themed reality show “Every Street United,” debuted June 15 to little notice.

But Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft Studios praised the series as an innovative reality series.

"It succeeded in uniting audiences around the globe during the recent World Cup," he said.

"I am pleased that Nancy, Jordan and members of the XES team remain committed to new, original programming already in production like the upcoming documentary series ‘Signal to Noise’ whose first installment takes on the rise and fall of gaming icon Atari and of course, the upcoming game franchise series ‘Halo: Nightfall,’ and the ‘Halo’ Television series which will continue as planned with 343 Industries.

“I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments from the entire team in XES. They have built an impressive slate of original programming and pioneered interactive entertainment on Xbox."

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