Microsoft Cancels Fable Legends, Mentions ‘Proposed Closure’ Of Iconic Game Studio Lionhead

Microsoft Cancels Fable Legends, Mentions ‘Proposed Closure’ Of Iconic Game Studio Lionhead
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Microsoft has cancelled the latest Fable game and has announced plans to close Lionhead, the legendary studio behind the Fable franchise.

In an update detailing changes to the company’s internal development studios, Microsoft said that they will be shutting down Fable Legends and shuttering dev studio Press Play:

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.

Lionhead was working on Fable Legends, a multiplayer title that would have take the action-RPG series in a new direction. Chosen by a fan vote campaign, Press Play’s next project was a third-person multiplayer survival game codenamed Project Knoxville. The studio’s most recent release was the Xbox One game Max and the Curse of Brotherhood. The “proposed closure” wording regarding Lionhead is odd, as it doesn’t quite seem as definitive as with Press Play. We reached out to Microsoft for clarification and they responded with this official statement:

We aren’t sharing additional details today beyond that we have ceased development on Fable Legends, and are in discussions with employees at Lionhead about our proposed closure of the studio as well.

Fable Legends was announced in August 2013, with an open beta planned for the spring of this year. The game was supposed to be a free-to-play, cross-platform release that would let Xbox One and PC gamers play against each other.

If this development is indeed the end of Lionhead as a game-making entity, it marks the finale of a history that stretches back to the studio’s 1996 founding by designer Peter Molyneux. Lionhead’s first big hit was the 2001 god game Black and White, followed by Fable in 2004. Cinematic creation title The Movies released in 2005 and sequels Fable II and III came out in 2008 and 2010. Multiplayer party/action hybrid Fable Heroes and Kinect game Fable: The Journey trickled out to lukewarm reception in 2012, which was also the year that Molyneux left Lionhead. The studio put out Fable Anniversary, a HD remake of the first Fable game in 2014.


  • No shit. Who the fuck thought Fable Legends was a good idea? Let’s take a series about choosing your own journey and creating your own character and make it a F2P arena-ish game with no choice at all.

    • Its particularly odd when you consider how solid the game before that was, I mean who didn’t want a Kinect rail shooter fable game?

      Kinect games are always a good idea!

  • Wow this is crazy, I was in the beta and it was slowly shaping up into something relatively interesting. I hope this doesn’t mean the end of the franchise as a whole. I’d still love to see a Fable 4 that really captures what made the first two so great.

  • I want to care about this, but I just don’t. I got no joy from other MMOs on the Xbox platform (ESO, Neverwinter) so Fable was admittedly not on my radar.

  • So they can the entire studio because they’re going to stop making Fable games? This seems pretty stupid to me. I don’t know if they’ve lost a lot of good people over the years or what, so maypbe they’re not really that good anymore, but the early Fable games seemed to be pretty well received (never played them myself). Yes, they pretty much ran the franchise into the ground, but surely they could put them to work on something else? Maybe even, god forbid, a new IP? Or at the very least go back through their back catalogue and dust off one of their old IP’s (assuming they actually own them).

    Perhaps they’d argue that the studio has lost its direction without Peter Molyneux but, given Molyneux’s output since then, you’d hardly call that an irreplacable loss.

    • No, I would say they canned the studio because cost vs profit wasn’t in balance.

      Sure they could work on a new IP, but where is the funding from that coming from, Microsoft? They just put how ever many thousands in to Fable legends and don’t have a product to show for it, that’s pure loss.

  • I couldn’t care less about Fable: Legends, but the thought of not getting another single player Fable game makes me a sad Chicken Chaser.

    • My thoughts exactly.

      Wooh a new Fable game in development! Fable: Legends. Ditching single player, making it multiplayer battling game.. whaaaat?

      Fable 1, 2 and 3 are some of my favorite games of all time. Hopefully even if Microsoft closes down Lionhead, they can split of into an independent company again or something and make the Fable 4 we’ve been waiting for.

      • Pretty sure they wouldn’t be able to make a Fable 4. Just like how Kojima can’t make a MGS6

        • It couldn’t be called Fable, but they can still stick to the concept. I don’t find the Fable lore all that compelling anyway, it’s the minute to minute choices and gameplay mechanics that made it stand out. The story itself was fairly forgettable. Taking the fundamentals and transitioning them to a new world and new backstory could work quite well and I don’t think you’d have to sacrifice anything that made Fable good when it was at its best.

          I was surprised by the online game announcement back in 2013. I’d assumed the next step for the series was for the world to open up and to lose its linear paths. A more open world Fable could be great and would be a way to take the concept forward.

  • I’m not too sad, Fable was hollow in the end. I know there were things to do but I remember reading that you could mash ‘B’ all through Fable 3 and it would trivialise combat… I tried and it worked, I stopped playing after that. Reminded me of that snowboarding game (xbox360 maybe) where you could put the controller down and you’d still get to the finish and with decent points to boot.
    Warble warble, old man complaining. 🙂

  • Fable sucked. Great idea, but so limited and not much freedom. Only think that made it enjoyed was being called “Chicken Chaser” for a few hours.
    Fable 2 was effectively the same game.
    Do another Jade Empire (I know, it’s Bioware) and let’s start talking!!

    • Can I ask when you played the first Fable?

      While it wasn’t perfect it brought at LOT of new things to the open-world/action/RPG table that have been borrowed or adapted into features in modern games.

      The formula never worked again, but for its time it was a very solid and rather influential game. It certainly didn’t “suck”.

      • I enjoyed all three fable games, but my god I wish it had less of the farting/burping/dancing/handshaking with villagers to get what you wanted.

  • And this, my friends is why when a big corporation buys an independent studio, it is a bad thing. A creative force becomes simply an asset whose intrinsic worth is constantly measured against other “assets” solely by the profit they bring.

    • Really?

      I see a studio that was bankrolled healthy sums of money to dream up overly ambitious concepts and then under deliver/ not deliver at all.
      I’m pretty sure Lionhead would have gone under years ago if they were an independent developer who were releasing very expensive rubbish like Fable III or niche stuff like The Movies that was never going to turn a huge profit. Not to mention ambitious concepts like ‘BC’ on the original Xbox that were started and never finished.

      They employed 100 people and released 2 good games in 20 years, they were owned my MS for half of them. That sounds like a studio that’s going to fail with or without help.

      I’m not saying MS is blameless, just that the “oh big business stripping the heart out of an indie developer” thing is ridiculous here. They were well underway on what would have no doubt been another ambitious sounding Fable game that absolutely nobody was interested in playing, I don’t think they would have been doing that on their own money.

  • Fable Legends was an awful idea from the get go, it was advertised as this awesome multiplayer fable experience, when in reality it was this horrible moba style arena game that just sucked. no story, no character customization or development it was just plain awful. I was in the closed beta and got through one round and that was it for me never played it again. Then it was announced to be changing to free to play. final nail in the coffin.
    I will seriously miss not having a fable 4 though, hopefully someone picks it up.
    Kingdoms of Amalur is basically fable 4 anyway, but that studio is dead too, which is a damn shame.

    • Loved Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Still haven’t bought the Teeth of Naros DLC. Don’t want the game to end. Combat was epic in this game.

    • That is an excellent perspective. Amalur was such a great game, in retrospect. I can’t believe it didn’t generate more critical hype, and that the studio got shut down over government getting cold feet about their investment.

      • My only guess is that critics had something better to do around the time it launched and never actually played it (did EA even send out review copies?). I mean I just can’t see many critics passing on such an easy chance for some street cred. Just point out that the game everyone else is ignoring is really good and you’ve improved your reputation as a critic. The game isn’t for everyone but you can tell right away that it’s good at what it is.

    • I really liked Kingdoms of Amalur, definitely an under rated game, but it wasn’t fun like Fable is. An action RPG set in a non-Tolkien fantasy universe on the edge of a steam-punk industrial revolution that’s serious about it’s lore but doesn’t take itself too seriously in the moment. I mean where else can I find that but Fable?

      Also Legends has a plot. It wasn’t really there at the beginning of the beta but the quests have story elements. Obviously it’s not the same as Fable 4 but there is a story. It’s a lot more fun now it’s not super laggy. I’d definitely ditch it for Fable 4 and it was a questionable decision, but they didn’t half arse it. The same could be said for The Journey. Not something that should have been made but they actually did put their all into it. It’s so weird that they ended a massive chapter of the Fable universe with The Journey.
      One thing that was really nice with Fable Legends was the ability to choose different playstyles. If they ever make a Fable 4 I’d love to be able to customise that aspect of my Hero.

  • “The legendary studio behind the Fable franchise”

    I’d take it easy on the hyperbole there.
    Fable was a very good game and an innovator at the time, and Black and White was good.

    They’ve made a lot more sh*t or fairly sh*t games than just two though, plus they’ve announced and cancelled more again.
    Remember ‘BC’ on the original Xbox?

    It obviously sucks for people who lost jobs, but I don’t think the gaming scene will be any worse off.

    • C’mon, any studio headed by Peter Molyneux was obviously AMAZING, with BRILLIANT STAFF and ENORMOUS POTENTIAL for player-aware AI and REVOLUTIONARY gameplay bound to RECREATE the industry.

      Darn it, I just can’t reproduce Molyneux’s schtick. Nobody does hype like Molyneux; he has the sincerity to pull it off. Once he left Lionhead, it was just another studio. Not that he did that great a job delivering the hype; Godus is the last game of his that I’ll ever buy on trust.

  • Shame, didn’t care for Legends, but was a fable lover. Hope this isn’t the end of the series 🙁

  • err, Fable Legends was not an MMO

    even if it flopped, it was an interesting idea and I would have preferred it came out for the players to decide

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