Yesterday the closure of Ensemble Studios, the development studio currently working on Halo Wars and responsible for hit RTS franchise Age of Empires, was just a rumour, but Microsoft has confirmed to GameSpot that the story is true. The studio will close once Xbox 360 exclusive RTS Halo Wars is released early in 2009.

"The team at Ensemble has made invaluable contributions to the games industry with their Age of Empires and Age of Mythology games and with the highly anticipated release of Halo Wars," said Microsoft in a statement to GameSpot. "This decision does not reflect at all on Ensemble's talent or the quality of Halo Wars - in fact, many people who have had a chance to test drive Halo Wars agree that it is on track to being a fantastic game."

It's understood that many of the top developers at Ensemble will form a new development studio, already signed on by Microsoft to support Halo Wars with content post release and to work on other projects with the publisher. Microsoft is working to place any Ensemble staff that don't move to the new studio into open positions within the company.

For more on Halo Wars head over to our preview from E3 2008.