While I may not be the biggest fan of the Fable series, (it’s 2008 sequel Fable 2 left a horrible scar that the game never got the opportunity to return from), it’s still disappointing to see a game get cancelled and with the studio possibly shutting down.
Microsoft announced today that they have cancelled the development of the Xbox One/PC game Fable Legends, and are in talks to shut down Lionhead Studios as well as Max: The Curse of Brotherhood developer, Press Play Studios.
The official announcement came from Hanno Lemke, general manager of Microsoft Studios Europe, which was posted to the official Xbox website:
Today, I have some difficult changes to announce that affect some of our Microsoft Studios teams and projects in the UK and Denmark.
After much consideration we have decided to cease development on Fable Legends, and are in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK. Additionally, we will close Press Play Studios in Denmark, and sunset development on Project Knoxville.
These have been tough decisions and we have not made them lightly, nor are they a reflection on these development teams – we are incredibly fortunate to have the talent, creativity and commitment of the people at these studios. The Lionhead Studios team has delighted millions of fans with the Fable series over the past decade. Press Play imbued the industry with a unique creative spirit behind games like Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba, which both captured passionate fans. These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play.
I speak for all of Xbox when I say that despite this news, we remain committed to the development communities in the UK and Europe, and Xbox will continue to support new IP and originality in the games we offer on our platforms, whether they’re AAA blockbusters like Quantum Break from Remedy, adventurous new IPs like Sea of Thieves from Rare, or unique new creations from independent developers like Moon Studios with Ori.
We have nothing but heart-felt thanks for the members of Lionhead and Press Play for their contributions to Xbox and gaming. We are committed to working closely with those affected by today’s news to find them new opportunities at Xbox, or partnering with the broader development community to help place them in jobs elsewhere in the games industry should they desire.
Fable Legends was announced back at E3 2013 and was originally set to launch in Q4 2015 with an open beta to start later this spring. The game was originally intended as a Free-to-Play Spinoff with crossplay between PC and Xbox One. Lionhead was founded in 1996 and released it’s first game, Black & White in 2002, Microsoft acquired the studio in 2006 after the success of the original Fable game.
The Copenhagen-based Press Play was acquired by Microsoft in 2012, then released Max: The Curse of Brotherhood exclusively for Xbox One and PC, itself a sequel for the multiplatformer Max and the Magic Marker. The studio was working on a new Hunger Games – inspired multiplayer game called Knoxville.
Lionhead is in talks with Microsoft over the “proposed closing,” due to U.K. law, companies must meet certain requirements for mass layoffs. When more than 20 employees are planned to be made redundant, employees are allowed a minimum 30-day consultation period before any dismissals take place. During the consultation period, companies are obligated to seek alternitives to layoffs including retraining or reassignment.
On behalf of all of us at GameItAll, we hope for the best for all the team members at Lionhead and Press Play. It sucks to see games get cancelled and it’s even worst to see studios shutter.