Microsoft kills Fable Legends, moves to close Lionhead Studios

It looks like Fable Legends will never see the light of day as anything more than a DirectX 12 benchmark. In a post on its Xbox Wire blog, Microsoft says it's decided to cease development of the next Fable title. Sadder still, the company says it's "in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK." For the unaware, Lionhead is the developer of the Black and White and Fable franchises.

The bad news doesn't stop there. Microsoft plans to close Press Play Studios in Denmark and halt development of Press Play's Project Knoxville. In both cases, the company says it's making the changes "to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play." That's hardly comforting for fans of the Fable series, who doubtless found those games to fit both of those criteria.

For members of Fable Legends' closed beta, Lionhead says the game will remain available to play until April 13 at 3PM GMT. The studio will provide players with a full refund for any in-game purchases made during the course of the beta. The Legends site remains up for now, so take a moment to head over and have a look at what could have been.

Comments closed
    • adamlongwalker
    • 4 years ago

    Hello. I don’t post much in here but there could be another possibility in the closures.

    It could be that it is getting more expensive to create content in Europe in general.

    I do know that in England that they lost several tax incentives in creating video gaming content a few years ago.

    Also in (most) European companies they have a consumption tax (VAT) on products. Over the years many countries have added video games into this area.

    I don’t do business anymore in Europe/Pacific Rim mostly because I got tired dealing with the paperwork. I thought the US was bad…. heh… nope.

    This is just information on a possibility a reason M$ is doing this.

    Other than that… yea there is a reason why this company got the monkier known as Micro$haft. All the IP’s that I will never see again in my life time.

    • Tirk
    • 4 years ago

    Does this mean…..
    3…
    2..
    1.
    Minecraft shifted to Xbox exclusive? Haha Microsoft sure loves PC gamers, it makes my insides hurt.

    • Cyco-Dude
    • 4 years ago

    …and this is why crowd-funding is good. people actually get different games, and not the same safe crap that makes investors the most money.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 4 years ago

    People wonder why no one trusts MS. Just look how they handle their studios and you’ll understand. The way they dispassionately manage their brands and talent… the members of team MS. Why would they treat some alien consumer any better. Unified game platform my @$$.

    • Meadows
    • 4 years ago

    I haven’t looked at Fable Legends until today and it looks like it was going to be some sort of new MMO game.

    If that’s the case, Microsoft should’ve killed it sooner. That market is full and shrinking.

    • Krogoth
    • 4 years ago

    Lionhead: The launch plan includes me, my studio and Fable. The first one to talk gets to stay on my schedule! Who paid you to grab Fable? He doesn’t market so good…. Tell me about Microsoft! Why does he wear the mask? A lot of loyalty for a hired shill!

    Microsoft: Why shot down a project before releasing it into the market?

    Lionhead: At least you can talk! Who are you?!

    Microsoft: It doesn’t matter who we are… What matters is our plan……

    Lionhead: If I take that will you die?

    Microsoft: It would be extremely painful.

    Lionhead: You are a big company!

    Microsoft: For you!

    Lionhead: Was closing our studio part of your plan?

    Microsoft: Of course. Fable refused our offer in favor of yours. We are here to find what he told you.

    Fable: I said nothing!

    Lionhead: Congratulations! You got yourself caught! What is the next step of your master plan?

    Microsoft: Crashing the PC gaming market! WITH NO SURVIVORS!

    • leor
    • 4 years ago

    I…. can’t..stop… PUNCHING MYSELF IN THE FACE… /MSFT

    • Gyromancer
    • 4 years ago

    Quickly, to Linux we must ride!

    • Voldenuit
    • 4 years ago

    Microsoft. Getting serious about gaming.

      • kvndoom
      • 4 years ago

      This is part of their “renewed focus.”

      • jihadjoe
      • 4 years ago

      At this point I kinda wish they’d get more casual about gaming.

    • NovusBogus
    • 4 years ago

    Isn’t one of their hot new games going to require Windows 10, too? That worked out really great for FASA back in the day, so maybe we can make this a hat trick of closures.

      • LostCat
      • 4 years ago

      Gears of War: Ultimate Edition already does, and iirc Quantum Break, Recore, Scalebound, and probably others I can’t remember atm are still coming.

        • kvndoom
        • 4 years ago

        Oooooh, a re-release of GOW1! I’m itching to play a 9 year old game again with 3 sequels only available on consoles…

        Wake me up when the whole series is ported to Windows.

          • LostCat
          • 4 years ago

          None of the rest of the series is getting a graphical overhaul to my knowledge, so you might be sleepin’ a while.

    • chrcoluk
    • 4 years ago

    Microsoft seem to be tumbling down rapidly, lots of cancelling projects, reversing decisions made a year earlier and now killing of a lot of their game franchises. Truly baffling. It seems they only still staying in the FPS space now, with HALO and and gears of wars.

      • NTMBK
      • 4 years ago

      Gears isn’t an FPS.

      • VincentHanna
      • 4 years ago

      Xbox crumbling, and MSFT crumbling are two realities that look completely different.

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      MSFT is dying in the long run. It is falling into the same traps that befell giants like GM and Sears.

    • Glorious
    • 4 years ago

    “The studio will provide players with a full refund for any in-game purchases made during the course of the beta”

    Wait, [i<]what?[/i<]

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      That’s awfully generous and kind of weird.

        • LostCat
        • 4 years ago

        True. I will soon be $10 richer for no apparent reason.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      What’s the question? Players may have bought freemium items under the assumption it would stay around when the game went final, now it never is going to. Microsoft could have pulled a “you already used it”, but this seems generous.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 4 years ago

        “Freemium” games die all the time, and nobody gets reimbursed. This is exceptional.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          Right, it’s more generous than they probably could have gotten away with, but I guess the logic in this situation was people were assuming their builds would continue when the final game released to the broader public, not just the beta.

          • VincentHanna
          • 4 years ago

          Generally speaking, it’s bad to take more than one or two unrelated PR hits in a week. MSFT probably figured that it would be cheaper to reimburse the users and generate a little good PR than to stack yet-another S-storm on the heals of the win 10 gaming issues and the unified platform controversy.

    • tanker27
    • 4 years ago

    I always thought Peter Molyneux’s aspirations were always bigger than what he could produce.

      • Chrispy_
      • 4 years ago

      Why yes and yes again.

      I’ve met him in person numerous times (okay, the number is only four) and his aspirations are even more far fetched when what he’s saying isn’t on record.

      • Zaphod1066
      • 4 years ago

      PM’s not been at Lionhead for several years iirc.

        • tanker27
        • 4 years ago

        true not since 2012…..However Fable (and others) is his legacy. And he does have a penchant for talking about features that never come to fruition.

    • spugm1r3
    • 4 years ago

    Microsoft: We’re dedicated to PC gaming… except for the games you want to play.

    • southrncomfortjm
    • 4 years ago

    Can Microsoft PLEASE stop trying to get more into PC gaming?

      • Firestarter
      • 4 years ago

      PC gaming will flourish despite their efforts

      • NovusBogus
      • 4 years ago

      It occurs to me that the US government could save a lot of money by ditching all that military stuff and just asking Microsoft to support countries we don’t like.

    • WhatMeWorry
    • 4 years ago

    Microsoft only made 4.6 billion for FY16 in profit. Games are expensive to make. It’s not like they got billions to throw around.

      • LostCat
      • 4 years ago

      If they liked losing money, they wouldn’t have billions to throw around.

      • biffzinker
      • 4 years ago

      Sure they do, take the Minecraft buyout for 2.5 Billion, and their later buyouts they’ve spent in the millions, and billions on.
      [url=http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/15/microsoft-buying-minecraft/<]Microsoft is buying 'Minecraft' and its development studio for $2.5 billion[/url<]

        • VincentHanna
        • 4 years ago

        I believe that was sarcasm.

    • Welch
    • 4 years ago

    Not sure why anyone is surprised. Microsoft likes to take on way more than it can chew and then cancel things before anyone gets a chance to remember they failed. The only exception to that is Windows in which they release even the crappy versions.

    Let someone else buy the rights to Fable and rehire a lot of the staff about to get laid off if they don’t want to do a spinoff.

    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    I felt this was a pretty well liked series until they started doing weird stuff. I mean, call it experimental, but the first three games were well liked, and then they made the Kinect-only Fable The Journey, then a free to play game. Maybe not the best way to manage the franchise.

    I mourn even more what they did to Banjo Kazooie. I don’t hate Nuts and Bolts, but hyping it as a Banjo game was maybe a miss, if it was just Winkle and Slappy Nuts and Bolts people may have liked it more. When people hear B&K, they want a B&K platformer.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      That game was great

    • Neutronbeam
    • 4 years ago

    And THIS is how MSFT moves to re-establish itself as a leader in PC gaming…not with a bang, but with a whimper.

      • brucethemoose
      • 4 years ago

      To be fair, Fable was a big Xbox series as well.

        • EndlessWaves
        • 4 years ago

        As well as what? It was never a big PC series

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      No, the bang was them killing it.

    • anotherengineer
    • 4 years ago

    And GabeN is getting 1 step closer to drawing more gamers over to SteamOS/Linux.

    I wonder what the ratio of PC gaming (win/linux) will be at 7 years from now when win 8.1 is EOL??

      • Kretschmer
      • 4 years ago

      99.99% : 0.01%

      Microsoft closing a studio will do nothing to boost Linux’s platform viability. The vast majority of people who are upset at Microsoft won’t respond by inflicting Linux upon themselves.

        • tanker27
        • 4 years ago

        99.99%….My you ARE highly optimistic. Is that number include native or do you still need middleware?

        • anotherengineer
        • 4 years ago

        lol

        well Linux is almost at 1%
        [url<]http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey[/url<] Wonder where steamOS is?? Well will try to remember to check back in March 2023.

    • brucethemoose
    • 4 years ago

    Microsoft, where video game franchises go to die.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      Except Halo

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Presenting the Xbox Three with launch games Halo 12 Fallopians and Gears of Ultimate War 7 and err…Yeah that’s all because we killed everything else.

        • BehemothJackal
        • 4 years ago

        Halo was dead after Bungie moved on. It’s a dead franchise walking.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          $400M Halo 5 launch, biggest Halo ever.
          Many of the original fans may have moved away (I stuck with it for a long time but the plot of 5 is just getting weird), but reports of its death in the overall market are a bit overstated.

            • Krogoth
            • 4 years ago

            Halo 5’s plot was a blatant rip-off of ME franchise (mostly ME3). Most of the original Halo team already move onto other stuff (Destiny).

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            Yeah, if they make Cortana follow EDI into becoming a physical robot-woman that’ll be a bridge too far, lol.

            It’s a shame because they had plenty of plot to explore organically, there was still the return of the Precursors and their final judgement, this whole AI subplot seems weird.

            • Krogoth
            • 4 years ago

            Nah, Cortana is becoming “Starchild” and Precursors sound like a rip-off of the “Reapers” minus the Cuttlefish and Lovecraftian overtones. The whole plot revolves around preventing AI and organic life from killing each other.

            Ironically, the Halos did the whole space magic guise as a superweapon crap before Cataylst + Crucible non-sense.

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            Oh they definitely have Lovecraftian overtones, lore wise were reality warpers that created every other race in Halo, some of which deliberately turned into the Flood for revenge. . But I wouldn’t have minded them being the main next plotline, as they were always the super long term game in Halo, it wouldn’t be out of the blue like this AI rebellion/Cortana Star Child.

            They were foreshadowed and partly detailed before the ME-ification of Halo 5 though, they’re where the plot was naturally going…which is why 5 bugged me as it felt like an unnecessary extension to the long term game.

            If you want a Reaper analog, it’s the Guardians which Cortana controls.

        • brucethemoose
        • 4 years ago

        MS just mutilated Halo instead of killing it.

        It doesn’t really resemble the Bungie games anymore.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 4 years ago

          That might make it more palatable to me: I tried very hard to like Halo 1 and 2, and just gave up after that.

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            When did you play them out of curiosity?

            Halo CE was fantastic for 2001, but if someone were viewing it with 2015/16 eyes with no nostalgia factor tied in it would definitely seem unimpressive. Same as Half Life 2 which was almost revelatory at the time, but now I find replaying it a bit of a slog.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 4 years ago

            I played them new, like right at release. I actually lined up to get an OG Xbox and Halo at launch. And maybe that’s why they disappointed – I built them up to be huge in my mind.

            The OG Xbox, btw, is still functional and awesome.

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            Ah. Maybe some of it was that it was a pack in game with the OG Xbox that people didn’t expect a whole lot from, and that helped it floor them.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 4 years ago

            Neither Halo nor HL2 are remotely “revelatory”. Halo is just a typical arena shooter of which there were dozens before, and HL2’s primary selling point (other than graphics) was the combination of story telling and gameplay, which had already been done by many games not the least of which was HL1.

        • fade2blac
        • 4 years ago

        One could argue that Halo actually suffered a form of infant mortality. The consolitis infested shell of a co-opted PC game that launched with the original Xbox was not the same game that initially intrigued so many, including myself, back in ’99.

        [url<]http://www.ign.com/articles/1999/07/22/heavenly-halo-announced-from-bungie[/url<] [quote<]...the game will get a simultaneous PC/Mac release...[/quote<] [url<]http://news.microsoft.com/2000/06/19/microsoft-to-acquire-bungie-software/[/url<] Quoting from Wikipedia, [quote<]Microsoft acquired Bungie in 2000; the project it was working on was repurposed into a launch title for Microsoft's Xbox console, called Halo: Combat Evolved[/quote<]

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          If you want to see Bizarro World, look no further than Steve Jobs introducing the Mac game Halo.

          [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzrme9yWens[/url<]

            • Krogoth
            • 4 years ago

            Which is kinda funny since Steve Jobs never really cared for PC gaming in general.

          • Krogoth
          • 4 years ago

          It was because Halo was originally going to be a spiritual sequel to Marathon franchise.

          FYI, Marathon was the major FPS title for the Mac crowd (pre-Steve Jobs return era)

      • w76
      • 4 years ago

      I thought EA won that title, like, a decade ago? 🙂

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      FIFY

      [quote<][b<]EA[/b<], where video game franchises go to die.[/quote<]

      • UnfriendlyFire
      • 4 years ago

      EA currently holds the title for the amount of studios that they purchased and later shut down. Latest one was Maxis.

        • LostCat
        • 4 years ago

        Last I checked 3/4 Maxis studios are still going.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 4 years ago

          EA slapping the name on studios in Finland and Utah that had nothing to do with Maxis doesn’t mean Maxis is still alive.

          The development studio that Will Wright built is dead.

            • dragontamer5788
            • 4 years ago

            At least Factorio and Cities Skylines exist.

            All hail our indie-game overlords. They can save us.

            • LostCat
            • 4 years ago

            Honestly after Darkspore and SimCity they probably deserve to be.

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    I saw you on the Xbox back in oh-two plus two
    Staying awake intent at not rage quitting on you
    If the polys were blocky it didn’t stop you coming through
    Oh a oh

    They took the credit for your Legends symphony
    Rewritten by machines on Xboned technology
    And now I understand the problems you can see
    Oh a oh

    I saw your sequels
    Oh a oh
    What did you tell them?

    Microsoft Killed the Videogame Star.
    Microsoft Killed the Videogame Star.
    Nadella came and broke your heart
    Oh, a, a, a, oh

    And now we meet in an abandoned code studio
    We see the foosball tables and they seem so long ago
    And you remember the fanboys used to go
    Oh-a oh
    You were the first one
    Oh-a oh
    You were the last one

    Microsoft Killed the Videogame Star.
    Microsoft Killed the Videogame Star.
    In my mind and in my console, we can’t rewind we’ve down the hole
    Oh-a-aho oh
    Oh-a-aho oh

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      Lol love it

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      Replace “Microsoft” with “Portables” or “Modern Consoles” and that song sounds about right.

    • RoxasForTheWin
    • 4 years ago

    I just wanted a Fable 2 port on PC, was that too much to ask?

      • kvndoom
      • 4 years ago

      This IS microsoft we’re talking about.

    • NTMBK
    • 4 years ago

    They couldn’t spin the company out as an independent again? They had to shut it down? Poor show Microsoft. 🙁

    Good luck to all the staff at Lionhead.

      • torquer
      • 4 years ago

      Spinning off a company is not free, and if it doesn’t have the cash to sustain operations it is pointless. If that were not the case, you would see a lot more companies spinning off failing subsidiaries. Selling or closing it is usually the most economical.

      Once closed though theres no reason why someone couldn’t buy the IP.

        • NTMBK
        • 4 years ago

        It’s not the IP I care about, it’s all the staff who are about to lose their jobs.

          • Srsly_Bro
          • 4 years ago

          Let the free market reign! No one wants that rubbish. The people will be fine, or not, or maybe they will.

            • w76
            • 4 years ago

            In the long run it’s for the best. Someone pointed out to me the other day there were thousands of car manufacturers in the early 1900s in the US alone. 99%, quite obviously, failed on the way to the modern machines we have today. Silicon valley could revel just as proudly in being Death Valley, as in most companies there will fail, but people prosper from it. Likewise, what sounds like the more likely source of an excellent PC game? A corporate backwater, or a small team that just suffered a setback and have bootstrapped themselves and created something wholly of their own vision?

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 4 years ago

        Provided that many of the costs are avoidable.

        • the
        • 4 years ago

        Depends if the parent company wants to sell. The bean counters often see IP as having strategic value even if the studio that generated it closes down. Diablo and Blizzard North are examples as the parent company eventually released a sequel.

        There are exceptions and they mainly focus around the ability to use 3rd party IP. Occasionally the license for 3rd party IP will be tied to the studio, not the parent company. If the studio gets shut down, the license disappears. Thus there is incentive to keep that studio open, though other projects would shut down or moved else where. This happens mainly with games based upon movies/comics etc.

        • VincentHanna
        • 4 years ago

        It’s pretty free, by any standard a company like MSFT would use to make their decisions… Heck, MSFT could, in theory, loan the fledgling company a few hundred million out the door, and force them to pay it back, with interest.

        You are right though, that it doesn’t make sense to spin off a company that doesn’t have any potential to become self-sustaining.

    • TwistedKestrel
    • 4 years ago

    Wouldn’t this game have been almost finished, in theory? Seems like an odd move

      • LostCat
      • 4 years ago

      It seemed like it. I’m not really sure if it was keeping people engaged though. I was playing it like…once every week or two maybe.

      • libradude
      • 4 years ago

      To kill a game that’s fairly well-anticipated when it’s already in beta is more like a dick move. Not impressed, MS!

        • Deanjo
        • 4 years ago

        Reminds me of Project Offset and intel….

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