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Microsoft to close XBOX Studios in Santa Monica

520 Broadway - the location just a few blocks from the beach in Santa Monica - that Microsoft has chosen to shutter.
520 Broadway - the location just a few blocks from the beach in Santa Monica - that Microsoft has chosen to shutter.
Jack Thrams

Less than 2 years in, Microsoft is pulling the plug on the much anticipated XBOX Entertainment Studios that opened in Santa Monica. Their intent when they signed the lease and lured CBS’ president Nancy Tellem to run the production studio was to create original content for the XBOX platform that would complement the app integration of other original-programming creators like Hulu, Amazon & NetFlix, for example. Despite seemingly quitting before they even got started, there are some things in the works right now at this little spot just blocks from the beach. According to Microsoft, those features already announced will continue to completion. That may or may or not be welcome news to those few creative types employed by Microsoft in sunny Santa Monica. The reality is that they are still part of the 18,000 announced layoffs last week – the largest in the company’s history. Many of those affected are in the recently merged Nokia business in Finland. But in the last few days, since much has been written about this historical announcement from Microsoft, it’s been revealed that it may actually be worse. Apparently contract workers will be affected as well - so the 18,000 number may grow to be over 20,000.
What originally lead Microsoft to get into show business was the discovery that people were not just playing games on their Xbox’s, but that they were spending about half the time watching movies, TV shows and listening to music through their gaming console. Imagine that – the Xbox really IS the conduit through which people are getting all of their news and entertainment. This is precisely what Microsoft wanted, right? With a new CEO at the helm, however, the software company is apparently changing directions and attempting to become more focused and selective in its ventures. Satya Nadella has begun making his mark on the company in some big ways (no more TechED, either). It will be interesting to see what other changes lie ahead. Hopefully we can all still look forward to seeing the documentary about the worst video game in history – the story of Atari’s ET. In the meantime, maybe Nancy Tellem can get her old job back at CBS Studios.