Microsoft has announced the cancellation of Fable Legends and the closure of developer Lionhead Studios today in an update on the Xbox News Wire.
The company also announced that Danish developer Press Play Studios will close and its current game, Project Knoxville, will also be cancelled.
Lionhead, based in the UK, was founded by controversial developer Peter Molyneux and was acquired by Microsoft in 2006. Molyneux founded the studio in 1996 and developed the Fable games for Xbox as well as the Black & White titles for PC and Mac.
The studio’s last game was 2014’s Fable Anniversary, a HD re-release of the original Fable for Xbox One. Fable Legends was in development for PC and Xbox One with beta testing on-going. The game was revealed by Lionhead and Microsoft during the latter’s 2013 gamescom press conference.
In January 2014, then studio boss John Needham teased that the developer was working on other projects that weren’t Fable-esque.
Fable Legends was a twist on the series’ regular formula, allowing four players to team up as heroes and fight a player-controlled villain. The game’s closed beta will continue until April 13th but no new players will be accepted. Any player who has purchased gold during the beta will be given a refund.
Hanno Lemke, general studio manager for Europe, said in a statement today noted that the company will try to find opportunities within Microsoft for affected employees as well as in the wider development community. Lemke added that Microsoft remains committed to developing games in the UK and Europe.
You can read the full statement below.
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.