With Layoffs Looming, Microsoft Looks to Trim Xbox Originals (Report)

/ Jul 17, 2014


Barely out of the gate, Xbox Entertainment Studios and its slate of original digital series for the coming year could be in trouble.

According to Variety, Microsoft is reconsidering its commitment to producing original shows for its Xbox platform as the tech giant looks to cut 18,000 jobs and streamline its operations to focus on its core internet, software, and video game businesses.

This means that Xbox could cut the number of shows it has under development. The division announced its first slate of original series and movies at Microsoft’s Digital Content NewFront presentation in April. Programs included a new digital series tied to Xbox’s hit gaming franchise “Halo”; multiple films based on other popular video games; the reality series “Fearless”; an untitled variety comedy project with Jash; and two shows, “Gun Machine” and “Winterworld,” both of which are based on popular novels/graphic novels.

A few of the projects that Xbox has committed to have either already premiered or are deep in production/post-production. These include “Every Street United,” a soccer-reality series filmed in Brazil during the recent World Cup, and “Atari: Game Over,” a feature film which sought to uncover whether and why Atari buried copies of the famously terrible E.T. video game.

Per Variety, Xbox’s biggest project, a live-action TV series based on its popular “Halo” video game franchise is still a go. The series is being produced in partnership with Steven Spielberg and Amblin TV. Xbox is in negotiations with Showtime to co-distribute the series both on its platform and on the premium cable channel.

It’s unclear what this means for Xbox Entertainment Studios boss Nancy Tellem, who was brought over to build the console’s original programming business. If Microsoft has completely lost interest in building an original video business, and is just seeing the projects it’s already committed to through to the end, then the writing is on the wall.

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