Lionhead Is Being Closed By Microsoft


Fable developer Lionhead Studios is to close down, Microsoft has announced this afternoon.

In a blog post written by Microsoft Studios’ European head, Hanno Lenke, it was revealed that the long-in-development Fable Legends has also been cancelled. Fable Legends had been in beta for quite a while, and was to be a free-to-play, multiplayer focused title.

In addition to Lionhead, Microsoft will also be closing Denmark-based studio Press Play, perhaps best known for creating Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba.

“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,” Lenke wrote. “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.”

In addition to Lionhead, Microsoft will also be closing Denmark-based studio Press Play, perhaps best known for creating Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba.

“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.”

Lionhead was founded by Peter Molyneux back in 1996, shortly after the industry veteran sold Bullfrog to Electronic Arts. After shooting to fame with the God sim Black & White, the studio caught the eye of Microsoft, who was then working on the first Xbox. While Black & White (and its sequel) and The Movies were critically and commercially successful, it was Fable that cemented the studio’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with. Microsoft purchased the developer in 2006.

After Microsoft purchased the company, Lionhead focused exclusively on Fable games, Fable 2, released in 2008, is widely regarded as one of the best games released for Xbox 360, though 2010’s Fable 3 received a more muted reception, with the studio struggling to complete the game within the timescale demanded by Microsoft.

Under the Redmond giant’s ownership, the only non-Fable project that Lionhead announced was the ill-fated Kinect project Milo & Kate. Despite being used as a showcase for Microsoft’s vision of the motion-sensing peripheral, Milo & Kate was eventually shelved. Fable: The Journey was Lionhead’s last original commercial release. By the time Fable: Anniversary – a remake of the original game – came out, Peter Molyneux had moved on to found 22 Cans.

For some, Lionhead was an example of the sheer creativity of the UK videogame development scene. For others, it will stand as an example of what happens when a talented studio has a hit and is taken over by a massive corporation – endless sequels and eventual closure. But whatever you might think of Lionhead, it’s difficult to deny that they made a tremendous impact on the industry.

Our thoughts are with all the employees affected by the closure, and hope that they find work elsewhere soon.


Dale Morgan

Dale Morgan

Founder, Editor in Chief
When Dale isn't crying over his keyboard about his never-ending workload, he's playing games - lots of them. Dale has a particular love for RPGs, Roguelikes and Metroidvanias.
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