Developing Halo Wars caused tension between Ensemble and Halo developer Bungie, studio founder Tony Goodman told GamesIndustry International.
According to Goodman, although Bungie didn't have the ability to make the game, they were unhappy with another developer using the Halo name and applying it to an RTS.
"Bungie was kind of sore about the idea," Goodman said. "What they called it was 'the whoring out of our franchise' or something."
The studio's final project, Halo Wars, was not originally intended to be a Halo game, he said. Studio owner Microsoft insisted, and that change made development difficult.
"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,'" he said. "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. They just said, 'Why don't you just paint over what you have with Halo stuff?' But things aren't quite that simple."
Microsoft announced Ensemble's closure in 2008, as the studio was wrapping up development on Halo Wars. Goodman and other ex-Ensemble employees formed Robot Entertainment, developers of Orcs Must Die!, its sequel, and Hero Academy, after the studio shut down.