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.