Update: Microsoft has responded to a request for comment on Ascend: Hand of Kuhl.
“We can confirm that effective November 18, 2014, ‘Ascend’ on Xbox 360 will close," a Microsoft representative told us via email. "Players will still be able to play ‘Ascend’ on Xbox 360 and use any content they have already acquired until the game closure date. This only applies to ‘Ascend’ on Xbox 360 – ‘Ascend’ will continue to be available on the Steam gaming platform. We thank Signal Studios and its community of gamers for their support and look forward to welcoming them into our other gaming communities.”
Ascend: Hand of Kul, one of the first free-to-play games to arrive Xbox 360, is no longer available to download.
You can still find the game on Xbox Live, but there is no longer an option to download the game. The same goes for game's page on Xbox.com – there is no option to purchase or download the game.
— Signal Studios Dev (@Signal_Studios) August 21, 2014
While Microsoft decided to discontinue the Xbox 360 version, you can play on Steam &receive 25k Souls as a new player:http://t.co/1eokeQXnMn
— Ascend: Hand of Kul (@AscendGame) August 21, 2014
In a post on developer Signal Studios' website, it wrote about the disappearance saying, "Signal Studios must regretfully announce that despite our best efforts and the game's success, Microsoft has discontinued support for Ascend: Hand of Kul on the Xbox 360 and removed the game from the Xbox Live Marketplace." Signal Studios was apparently not told this would be happening and wrote, "This surfaced to us while investigating various issues players have been experiencing over the weekend. We are deeply saddened by this decision and the impact it has on our community." Back in May, when Signal Studios announced plans to bring the game to PC, it said it had 2.5 million players on Xbox Live.
The PC version of the game is currently in beta here on Steam. In the interest of encouraging new players to start playing, and old players to shift platforms Signal Studios wrote, "In appreciation of our fans, Signal Studios will grant all new Ascend PC players a starting bonus of souls totaling 25K which can be used to purchase gear, spells and buffs. All existing Ascend PC players will receive a 10K soul bonus just for playing."
We've reached out to Microsoft to learn more details about Ascend: Hand Of Kul's discontinuation and will update this story when we learn more details.
Any number of factors could have contributed to the shutdown of Ascend: Hand of Kul, but for Signal Studios to apparently find out second-hand while bug squashing seems strange. The game could have been performing poorly, or simply not generating profits despite large player numbers, but to not receive warning from the platform holders is questionable.