Microsoft Officially Kills Lionhead


In early March, Microsoft announced plans to cancel Fable Legends and put forth a “proposed closure” of the iconic studio Lionhead. Today, it’s official: Lionhead is no more.

“We can confirm that after much consideration over the six week consultation period with Lionhead employees, we have reached the decision to close Lionhead Studios,” Microsoft told our friends at Kotaku UK last night. “We have nothing but heart-felt thanks for the team at Lionhead for their significant contributions to Xbox and the games industry.”

Said “consultation period” was just a formality: British law requires companies to go through a very specific process before they officially shut down. Lionhead employees had been prepared for the end. Even the website is no more.

Lionhead, best known as the studio behind Fable and Black & White, was founded in 1996 by former Bullfrog employees including Peter Molyneux. Molyneux left the company in 2012.

Top: Screenshot from the cancelled Fable Legends


  • Sad to see this happen, Lionhead was responsible for a fair few of my favorite games, and I was really hoping for another Fable (like 1,2,3, not like that 1vs4 thing they were developing).

    Hopefully a new studio rises from the ashes and the team get together again somewhere.

  • Fable Legends was a bad idea from the start. To go from a game where the character’s individuality is at the very core of the gameplay, to just selecting a generic hero to play an FPS LoL clone? Bring back Molyneux, bring back Fable!

    • Here’s the thing though, Fable Legends was a good game. There was actually a bit more customisation of the heroes than the main series games (although not visually, it was all traits and skills). It wasn’t a FPS either, the combat played like Fable 1-3 with more depth mechanically.
      I think it was a terrible decision to go with that instead of Fable 4 but regardless of why they went down this path they found a way to make it feel right. The loading scenes where you walked through a stage play of the events that were unfolding was brilliant. It was like Theresa’s voice overs from Fable taken to the next level. There were tons of little things like that which made it clear this game had the heart and soul that made the Fable games so different to anything else on the market.

      For me it really highlights just how shitty losing Lionhead is. They took a really stupid order and made something pretty inspired. The same can be said about Fable The Journey. The Kinect controls stank up the game and again it wasn’t Fable 4 which sucks, but aside from that they made a worthy Fable game. They took a project where everyone assumed they’d just squeeze out a Fable branded Kinect game because Microsoft told them to and found a way to properly fold it into their franchise.
      Fable Legends would have almost certainly flopped because F2P MOBAs are sort of over played right now, but I think ultimately it displayed a rare level of artistic talent. You won’t normally see that even from a studio that has total creative freedom, yet Lionhead managed to bring it when their orders were to jump on trend or pimp half-baked technology.

      Sorry for the rant. I just feel like people draw the wrong message from Fable Legends because it never got the chance to convince the world it was more than the terrible idea. It’s like if Metroid Prime was never released and everyone continued to think 3D FPS Metroid was heresy.

      • I’ll have to disagree with you there. Comparing Fable Legends differences from the Fable series is very different than Metroid to 3D Metroid. Example: Fallout 2 to Fallout 3 – 2D turnbased to 3D realtime. Sure there was a lot of “you’re ruining it!” outcry, but overall, it retained many of the things that make Fallout great.

        Fable to Fable Legends was more like if they took Fallout 3/NV/4 and turned it into a multiplayer online-only deathmatch arena based game – it might look like Fallout still, it might even play like it, it could even be fun.. but it would not be anything like the game people actually wanted as another installment in the series. I certainly wouldn’t buy a Bethesda online only PvP game, because that’s so far from what I love about their games that it’s just “alien” and should be a completely separate IP from the single player RPGs.

        I loved Fable 1, 2, 3. I even played the mobile “tavern game”. Fable Legends was so not in keeping with the core idea of the previous Fable games, being multiplayer 1v4 that I had no interest in it at all, other than to lament it would put a “real” Fable game on hold for even longer.

  • Someone who isn’t Molyneux needs to make a proper Fable game. I liked 2 & 3 but they were.. Odd.

    Also they should re-form Bullfrog and make a new Theme Park 😀

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