Microsoft finalizes closing of Lionhead Studios

Back in March, we reported on Microsoft’s plan to stop development of the free-to-play MMO version of Fable, named Fable Legends. Fable Legends was being produced by Lionhead Studios, and when the cancellation announcement was made there was some uncertainty about its future. Today, in a statement to Polygon.com, Microsoft has announced the closing of the studio.

Fable Legends was one of the first titles to make use of DirectX 12, and even back in September of last year, a pre-release version was complete enough for us to use it in an early benchmark of the API. The title was in closed beta, with an open beta expected to launch this spring, according to Polygon. It's a bit unusual to see a game cancelled at this late of a development stage, and it remains to be seen if Microsoft has any further plans for the franchise.

Along with the Fable series, the studio was known for its popular Black and White titles. The company's founder Peter Molyneux is known for his work in highly ambitious games, dating back to Populous in 1989. Lionhead was purchased by Microsoft in 2006, at which point it began to focus on the Fable series. Molyneux left the studio in 2012 to found a new independent studio called 22Cans.

As part of the announcement to Polygon, Microsoft has stated that the reason for the delay between the cancellation of Fable and the announcement of Lionhead’s closing was to help its employees find new work.

Comments closed
    • Neutronbeam
    • 4 years ago

    It hurt when they shut down FASA. The Mechwarrior games played with a force feedback joystick were a rockin’ good time and my introduction to PC gaming.

    • Meadows
    • 4 years ago

    I used to love god simulators years ago but that enthusiasm somehow died down over time.

    Also, I did play the original Fable and found it wanting. Could never really get into the whole theme and concept. I was almost willing to give the series another chance but Fable II was console-only, which I considered an insult serious enough to steer me away from the franchise entirely.

    Who knows, this latest game just might have worked, but we’ll never know because Microsoft decided they’d rather not support it with full staff at breakeven (or worse) financials for years.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 4 years ago

    They did some interesting AI stuff with Black & White, neural nets involved iirc.

    • NovusBogus
    • 4 years ago

    Well it wouldn’t be a new DX version if it didn’t involve shutting down a historically significant studio.

    • brucethemoose
    • 4 years ago

    1: Microsoft buys studio + their IP for a lot of money

    2: They usually sink more money into development.

    3: Microsoft closes studio, fires staff, sells assets, often before all that development work bears any fruit.

    I don’t understand… They’re repeating this pattern over and over again, but how can it be profitable for them?

      • Horshu
      • 4 years ago

      Isn’t #3 “Studio buys itself back, leaving assets to Microsoft.”?

      • LoneWolf15
      • 4 years ago

      Kind of like HP has done with a lot of hardware in the past few years.

      Aruba looks to be the only company they have done something right with so far.

      • Laykun
      • 4 years ago

      I’d guess a lot of the tenure agreements come to an end before product release, causing a brain drain and leaving only the clock punchers.

      • FrankJR
      • 4 years ago

      The management at Microsoft are egomaniacs who feel they can do a better job with the IP than the people that built the studio. Have you ever been to GDC or E3 and listened them? They are extremely full of themselves, even if they have no record of producing something of merit. im sure they are extremely intelligent, but their narcissism brings them down.

    • RoxasForTheWin
    • 4 years ago

    Does that mean no Fable II HD release on PC?

    • Bensam123
    • 4 years ago

    Crappy business move when they’re just about to start earning money on a IP. Pretty much all of the development costs are already sunk, they could’ve just released what they had even if almost no one plays it, as long as they’re making a return that should be a good starting point.

      • rahulahl
      • 4 years ago

      They did the same thing with Age of Empires Online.
      They had a new civilization (Romans) all ready for release, after all the hard work done and all the teasers.. they simply decided to shut down the development on the game before Romans could be released.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      Like anybody cares about sunk costs. Let emotions be our guide!

    • adampk17
    • 4 years ago

    I really liked Black and White. 🙁 Sad.

      • Horshu
      • 4 years ago

      You can make Lionhead great again!

    • torquer
    • 4 years ago

    How dare you shut down a studio that had 2 sets of unique IP that reached a limited though vocal audience!

      • thanatos355
      • 4 years ago

      You can’t take the sky from me!

    • thanatos355
    • 4 years ago

    God damn you, Microsoft! You’ve gone too far!

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