This wasn't all that peachy an idea with Halo creator Bungie, recalls former Ensemble dev Tony Goodman. Bungie felt it was 'whoring out' the IP through Ensembles' RTS project.
Halo Wars wasn't actually meant to be Halo anything at the start as Ensemble was following their ideas, but Microsoft got jittery and decree Halo should be in it.
"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," Tony Goodman described to . "They just said, 'Why don't you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?' But things aren't quite that simple."
More problems arose from Bungie's lack of resources to dedicate attention to the RTS spin-off, meaning Ensemble's venture into the IP was regarded with a general distain. This wasn't the view put forward by Bungie AI programmer Damian Isla back in 2008, who said they were "all really excited about Halo Wars, because from everything we've seen so far it's a very cool, faithful adaptation... Everything we've seen has been very, very encouraging - we're very excited about it."
That's not the message Goodman and Ensemble felt was communicated. "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".
Microsoft closed Ensemble Studio not long after Halo Wars released on Xbox 360, ending the veteran career of a studio that founded the long-time PC series Age of Empires.