Fable Legends Cancelled and Lionhead Studios Potentially Shuttered
The harsh reality of working in the private sector is that if you don’t perform, your company could be shut down or you can be relieved of your duties without much notice at all. The games industry is no stranger to this kind of story and today Microsoft announced that Lionhead Studios, the group behind the Black & White and Fable franchises is in the process of being disbanded or at the very least significantly restructured. Also, their current in-production game Fable Legends has been cancelled. In addition to that, Microsoft also announced the closure of Press Play, the studio that brought you Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.
Hanno Lemke, the General Manager of Microsoft Studios Europe announced in a blog post today that effective immediately, Press Play was no more and that their in-development game, Project Knoxville was cancelled. The less clear wording is in relation to Lionhead Studios. The blog post which is linked below makes it sound like Microsoft wants the studio to either completely restructure in a more focused way potentially and that Microsoft had lost confidence in the Fable Legends project entirely. Now, I guess since the game is now cancelled I can talk about Fable Legends publicly. I have been in the beta test for that game for over a year and I can confidently say that the game wasn’t shaping up well at all. The mission structure was uninteresting and the entire experience lacked the kind of humor and impish whimsy that normally accompanied Peter Molyneux’s work. From the word “go” that game doesn’t feel like a Lionhead Studios game as you know it. It looks like somebody read a description of a Fable game and tried to make one themselves without really knowing what makes those games special.
That being said, nobody ever wants to see someone out of a job. But, the last few years haven’t been kind to Lionhead Studios in particular. Fable III wasn’t greeted with the fanfare that the second game was. Fable: The Journey was an okay Kinect game that didn’t garner much of a following and the Fable Anniversary remake of the original game was hamstrung with some poor technical execution and was generally considered to be inferior to the original game.
I will miss Lionhead Studios if they close. Hopefully, Microsoft Studios is able to find a way to focus that studio and potentially scale it back in a way that makes sense financially and puts that studio back on a road that will be successful for all involved. In closing, working in the private sector is harsh. We are all playing a risky game and sometimes we all lose when the chips don’t fall right.
The entire press release can be read here: http://news.xbox.com/2016/03/07/microsoft-studios-changes-uk-denmark/