We hardly knew ye: Microsoft shutters Xbox Entertainment Studios

Mere weeks after debuting its first show, the soccer reality competition Every Street United, Microsoft has announced that it is getting out of the original programming business and will shut down the Xbox Entertainment Studios. This move comes as part of a larger corporate restructuring that could shed some 18,000 employees over the next year. Newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella signaled the reorganization in a recent company-wide e-mail that spoke of “fundamental cultural changes” and renewed focus on the company’s “unique core.”

The studio shutdown will not affect the production of Halo: Nightfall, the live action series based on Bungie’s hit shooters being produced by Ridley Scott in collaboration with Showtime, or Signal to Noise, the documentary in development about Atari and the mythical New Mexican E.T. landfill. Nor will it have any impact on the production of Quantum Break, Remedy Entertainment’s Xbox One exclusive game with integrated live action content, or the planned Steven Spielberg-produced Halo TV series. Nancy Tellem, the former CBS executive whom Microsoft hired in 2012 to helm the studio, will remain on board to see through the programming that has already begun production.

“Change is never easy, but I believe the changes announced today help us better align with our long-term goals,” explained Xbox head Phil Spencer in a public statement. “We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us to define what the next generation of gaming looks like for the growing Xbox community. I have a great deal of confidence in this team and know that with clarity of focus on our mission and our customers we can accomplish great things together. We already have.

With the immense success of Netflix’s original programming like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, there has been a flurry of other companies trying to get a piece of the action. First the obvious contenders like Amazon and Hulu followed suit, and more recently Yahoo threw its hat into the ring with the announcement that it will be partnering with Sony to produce a sixth season of the cancelled NBC sitcom Community. Hiring Tellem in 2012 was part of a broader push to make the Xbox into a universal entertainment platform–Microsoft’s E3 presentation that year seemed to focus on nearly everything that the console could do other than playing games. Fan backlash was strong, though, and as a mea culpa the company’s presentation last month was about gaming first and foremost.

In light of that shifted attention and Nadella’s refocusing on the company’s core, XES’s demise is not particularly surprising. Xbox will continue to serve as a portal to a wide range of entertainment media, but it may be for the best that Microsoft sticks to what it does best rather than trying to be everything for everyone. As Parks and Recreations paragon of wisdom, Ron Swanson, once put it: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

Gaming

‘Forza Horizon 4’ reportedly includes famous ‘Halo’ level

Playground Games' upcoming racing game Forza Horizon 4 will reportedly include a race based on Silent Cartographer, a mission from the original Halo game. The racer is out on October 2.
Gaming

Arcade junkies, get set: Halo is coming to Dave & Buster’s

The next Halo game won't be on the Xbox One. Halo: Fireteam Raven is a new arcade cooperative shooter coming to Dave & Buster's this summer. It takes place during the events of the original game.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in August, from ‘Arrested Development’ to ‘Dark Tourist’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

The best PS1 games of all time

Take a stroll down memory lane with the 50 best games ever released for the original PlayStation.
Gaming

The ‘Fortnite’ sky rift is closing and rumored to disappear next week

Fortnite's giant sky rift that has lit up the sky for the entirety of season 5 is slowly closing and is rumored to completely disappear next week. Find out what's happening and why it is here.
Gaming

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ gets battle royale ‘Blackout’ beta September 10

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will hold a beta for its battle royale Blackout mode in September, and it will be available first to those who pre-ordered the game on PlayStation 4. The game releases October 12.
Product Review

Brutal and emotional, 'God of War' is everything a blockbuster game should be

In a new land, on a new journey, God of War evolves beyond the button-mashing action of its youth into an action game with engaging combat and an engrossing story.
Product Review

'NBA 2K19' will dunk on you, but don’t worry. You’re going to like it.

NBA 2K19 makes smart changes that force you to dig deep into your bag of tricks to succeed. This might be the most accurate virtual version of NBA basketball yet.
Computing

Steam survey shows PC gamers are still mostly playing in 1080p and lower

Valve Software’s latest hardware and software survey for July 2reveals that 63.72 percent of Steam’s registered members still play games with a 1080p resolution. Even more, only 1.14 percent are playing at a 4K resolution.
Mobile

How to get ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ on an Android device

'Fortnite: Battle Royale' is one of the biggest games in the world right now, and it's finally on Android, even if getting set up is a bit long-winded. Here's how to play 'Fortnite: Battle Royale' on an Android device.
Gaming

Storytelling masterpiece ‘Gone Home’ is headed to the Nintendo Switch

Fullbright's acclaimed first-person adventure game Gone Home will arrive to Nintendo Switch later this month. The game is available now on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Gaming

‘Battlefield V’ pre-order numbers have been underwhelming, analysts say

Market analysts at Cowen have said that the early pre-order numbers for Electronic Arts' upcoming shooter Battlefield V have been disappointing. The game is scheduled to arrive this October.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Asus claims ‘world’s thinnest’ title with its new Zephyrus S gaming laptop

The Republic of Gamers arm at Asus is claiming “world’s thinnest” with the introduction of its new Zephyrus S gaming laptop measuring just 0.58 inches at its thinnest point. The company also revealed the Strix SCAR II.