While Halo Wars wasn’t the best selling Halo title to date, it did consist of some very good strategy game mechanics. However, Ensemble Studios’ last project wasn’t even meant to be an installment in the Halo franchise. In an interview with GI, Founder Tony Goodman praised the product but did give some lip about how Microsoft handled things.
“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.’ The difficult part of that was it took the game back about a year in development, and I think it never quite turned out the same. They just said, ‘Why don’t you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?’ But things aren’t quite that simple.”
To make matters even worse, Ensemble never got Bungie’s approval on the project.
“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].”
Of course, all of this emerges well after the studio has been closed. After Halo Wars failed to take off, Microsoft proceeded to relocate their funds elsewhere causing one of the best strategy game makers of all time to shut their doors permanently.