Microsoft closes Xbox TV production unit

Halo Steven Spielberg is set to produce a live-action series based on the Halo video game

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Microsoft's plan to compete with Netflix and Amazon by producing its own TV shows has come to an early end, as the firm announces 18,000 job cuts.

Xbox Entertainment Studio will close by the end of the year, Xbox chief Phil Spencer told employees in an email.

The studio launched to great fanfare in 2012, having secured Steven Spielberg to produce a spin-off of the military-themed sci-fi video game, Halo.

That show will go ahead, despite the studio's closure, Microsoft said.

Five other shows had been given the green light, and a further 11 were in development.

The majority were male-friendly titles, with ties to the company's major video game franchises, including Gears of War, Age of Empires, Fable and Forza Motorsport.

Only one had made it to air - Every Street United, a football-themed reality show, which debuted last month.

Documentary programme Signal to Noise and a second Halo spin-off, Halo: Nightfall, written by Prison Break creator Paul Scheurin, are already in production and will be not be cancelled.

Humans, a co-production with Channel 4 in the UK, is also expected to go ahead.

A remake of a Swedish series about humans living with robot servants, the eight-episode drama is scheduled to debut next year.

"Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like NFL on Xbox, and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates," said Microsoft in a statement.

The closure comes against the background of major cuts at the technology firm.

Up to 18,000 jobs will go, the majority from its phone unit Nokia, which Microsoft bought in April.

The firm employs 127,000 globally, including 3,500 staff in the UK.

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