Fable Legends cancelled while Lionhead Studios will soon be closed

It's a sad day for fans of Lionhead Studios.

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Microsoft has announced it has cancelled Fable Legends and is in the process of closing Lionhead Studios. The company will also be closing Press Play Studios and ending the development on Project Knoxville.

In a statement published on Xbox Wire, Microsoft says 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." This leads us to believe Microsoft didn't think there was enough "excitement" for Fable Legends when compared to its bigger AAA franchises, like the Halo series.

Fortunately, Xbox assures the gaming community it's committed to working closely with those affected by today's news to help find them new opportunities at Xbox or help place them in jobs elsewhere in the games industry if they like.

Lionhead Studios was founded in 1996 and released its first game, Black & White, in 2001. The studio then went on to work on the original Fable in 2004, Black & White 2 and The Movies in 2005, and were acquired by Microsoft in April 2006. Under Microsoft, Lionhead Studios went on to work exclusively on the Fable series as Fable II released in 2008, and Fable III released in 2010. The studio also worked on an Xbox Live Arcade Fable Heroes game, and the Kinect-enabled Fable: The Journey.

Fable Legends was announced back in August 2013 as an Xbox One exclusive, but several months later was announced to be a free-to-play title for both Microsoft’s console and PC. We also learned Fable Legends is the reason why there wasn’t a Fable 4 yet. With today’s news, we have a feeling there won’t ever be a Fable 4.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 7, 2016 7:02 AM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Fable Legends cancelled while Lionhead Studios will soon be closed

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      March 7, 2016 7:04 AM

      What is going on at Microsoft? Especially after the Spring even it sounds like they are about to make a big withdraw or scale back in the games market.

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        March 7, 2016 7:09 AM

        This combined with the proposed yearly cycle of Xbox revisions, and forza etc going the F2P route it definitely seems like something is happening.

        Are they going after the iPad store money?

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          March 7, 2016 7:57 AM

          This combined with the proposed yearly cycle of Xbox revisions

          Please clarify?

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            March 7, 2016 9:31 AM

            Head of Microsoft's games division when talking about Windows 10, the Windows store, and cross game support for Xbox and PC made a statement about how they liked the PC because the hardware was iterative, comparing it to mobile platforms like phones, and that they had planned to bring that to the Xbox platform.

            That has been taken as "you will see iterative hardware". Like an XboxTwo that plays all the same games as the XboxOne, but better, while not phasing out the XboxOne.

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              March 7, 2016 9:33 AM

              I was under the impression the XBox One has not had any hardware revision at all, just packaged upgrades like the larger hard drive.

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                March 7, 2016 9:34 AM

                That would be an upgrade similar to what we've seen since consoles have become popular. I think Microsoft will take it a step further similar to what Nintendo did with the New 3DS.

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                  March 7, 2016 10:09 AM

                  There doesn't appear to be much to base this on. The XBox One hasn't had revisions because it hasn't been as bug-laden and fraught with engineering issues as the XBox 360, but shrinks are always likely because the less material needed the more they can fabricate, etc. So the tangible package "upgrades" (hard disk, special edition controller, etc.) are all we've had so far.

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                    March 7, 2016 10:20 AM

                    You mean revisions on a grander scale than what we saw with the 360.

                    I'm using the term in a more all inclusive fashion (Bigger hard drives, and less obvious hardware tweaks). Changes in the One are less dramatic as of now, but I think we'll see larger changes than what we saw with the 360.

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                      March 7, 2016 10:46 AM

                      I mean revisions in any sense of the word. You might think that a bigger storage device is a revision. It is certainly an upgrade, but I cannot in good conscience call that anything like a revision. As for revisions that are "more dramatic," making for a more powerful console... well good luck getting anybody to care about your platform when they can't be sure if their console can do all of the XYZ features of game ABC in the future. Fragmenting a market that, by its nature, doesn't like fragmentation is bad. The PC Engine is pretty well the only exception where a highly expandable console also happened to be a successful one, and the upgrades that were available for that console, as awesome as they were, still managed to show the shortcomings of a complete redesign, IOW, I just don't believe you are going to see a better, stronger, faster XBox One at all. The very idea just goes to against the ingrained experiences that marketing has taught year after year.

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                        March 7, 2016 10:54 AM

                        Ok, but their "tape out the hardware and don't change it for eight years" strategy doesn't work either. Developers went nuts when there wasn't next-gen hardware for their new games when they figured there would be by now.

                        I think what's going to happen is in a couple of years Xbox Two is going to come out and it'll play all the Xbone games as well as new Xbtwo games, and it can do so because of the UWP platform thing. There won't be a new hardware release every 6-8 months, there won't be a "is mine good enough to run it?" situation and there won't be some concern because it's all named Xbox One. But Microsoft is not king of the world this round and they might not want to wait eight years before trying again.

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                        March 7, 2016 11:22 AM

                        Have you looked at Microsoft lately? Nothing they've been doing is the status quo.

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                          March 7, 2016 11:24 AM

                          When their status quo is updating hardware every six months due to overheating failure, this is a good thing. I just don't see a magical go-against-the-grain XBox 1.1, it's way too... stupid?

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                            March 7, 2016 11:35 AM

                            If the alternative is you invest a large sum over a large period of time in hopes that it's successful, and then it's not it's a bad idea to keep trying that. Especially if it means you have to support an unsuccessful thing for long period of time, and there's no easy way to turn it around.

                            I'm not saying yearly revisions, however I could see something closer to ever 2 to 3 years you see a notable upgrade as you do with smartphones.

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                              March 7, 2016 12:23 PM

                              If they can't support it because the sales are just way too low, then the thing to do is to Sega Saturn it, just dump it completely and do it early. But I can't believe things are that bad. The biggest problems that the XB1 have had were entirely image related, marketing fumbles, and the thing about marketing is, it's easy to fix. If crap messaging is really what is holding you back, then the right messaging might turn it around. If it doesn't turn it around, there is maybe a 50% chance out wasn't really (or only) the marketing that was the problem.

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                                March 7, 2016 1:50 PM

                                Microsoft spent a lot of time trying to turn the image of Windows 8 around. It never really worked for them, and it's still a problem now. I think the other thing to look at here is what Microsoft actually makes off the Xbox division. The Xbox classic was a loss, and the 360 is speculated to do a little better than break even. The One hasn't been going well for them. I wouldn't be surprised if forces inside are questioning weather the current approach is in inline with what else the company is doing, especially since it's not a lucrative arm for Microsoft.

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              March 7, 2016 9:53 AM

              I'd be willing to bet that either

              a) he was referring to future consoles being able to run the previous systems' games due to UWP (instead of what we have now where the Xbone on day one can't run any 360 games) but not that they're going to make iterative consoles any time soon, or

              b) he meant exactly that but some other division of Microsoft will shut that down soon. Remember how many mixed messages came out of Microsoft in the run-up to Windows 10's release

              There's also a fringe theory that this is effectively Microsoft bowing out of the console hardware business (i.e., taping out hardware and sticking to it for years) and instead just making TV-focused closed multimedia PC's.

              In any event I don't think what they're going to do is as drastic as people think it sounds.

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                March 7, 2016 10:04 AM

                I can't see Microsoft getting back into media PCs. I know the FCC is looking at removing cable box requirements, but come on. Streaming is where it's at, and you don't need specialized hard ware to do it. Pretty much anything with a screen already does.

                If Microsoft wants to get into that space, they don't want to make media PCs, they want to make TVs. Sell a highend TV, and hit people up for services.

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                March 7, 2016 10:07 AM

                Messages about the XboxOne have been mixed in general. It's pretty clear that both of these consoles were rushed, but the XboxOne seems more idealistic, and less thought out. At first it was Kinect, and always on connections, and a crazy system for used games. They hadn't even nailed down how used games would work on the platform when showing it off. I think it's less mixed messaging, and really just a bunch of executives flying by the seat of their pants.

                XboxOne needs to decide WTF it wants to be, because it's not a good streamer, and is lackluster as an example of next gen gaming.

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                  March 7, 2016 10:46 AM

                  Microsoft has for a while now been in the position Apple is finding themselves in where when they had a product no one had and everyone needed they were making a ton of money every year based on just filling a need alone. Few people owned a PC, everyone went and bought one, Microsoft's OS was on all of them, now everyone has one. No one owned a tablet, Apple makes the iPad, everyone buys one, now sales have leveled off because everyone has one.

                  So Microsoft needs to find the next no-one-has-it-everyone-needs-it thing and they figured if everyone has a TV then sell them something to hook up to a TV. Today a $35 Chromecast can do Netflix but people forget that the first thing to stream Netflix was the 360. Microsoft's original goal with the Xbox was to get a device connected to everyone's TV set. So it makes sense that the first one was a traditional game console, the second one tries to branch out more and the third one tries to be the center of your digital universe that also happens to play games. Problem is the Xbone suffered in trying to be a jack of all trades and few people wanted to pay an extra $100 to have Microsoft cameras in their home or be able to talk to their TV, meanwhile Sony starts snapping up better console exclusives. And for years now Microsoft has been seeing their OS sales eroding thanks to tablets and smartphones to the point where they thought a tablet-focused OS was a good idea and now they're having to give away Windows 10 to make it appealing to people (fwiw, Win10 actually is pretty good overall).

                  So yeah, Microsoft's in a weird spot right now. Not to say they're failing or flailing but when you lay off thousands of users and then pay Notch $2B for Minecraft somethings up.

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                    March 7, 2016 11:31 AM

                    You're pretty spot on here.

                    The only thing I could see them making as a no one has it device right now is some kinda of phone/hand held gaming device, similar to what the Xperia Play tried to be.

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                    March 7, 2016 5:28 PM

                    Core 2 processors has been the killer for many PC companies be it software or hardware.
                    Windows10 and most current software for business and beyond works fine on the processors so people do not need to buy new hardware which limits MS OS sales and also ongoing sales from PC vendors.
                    My PC upgrade cycle has changed from a PC every 2 years to half a PC every 2 years and many companies have turned 4 year upgrade cycles to 6 year minimum.
                    I believe that PC manufacturers have lost about 20% of their sales in the last 4 years as people make minor upgrades to Multi core PCs rather than buy new systems and it will only get worse until something special like quantum computing comes along.
                    For too many years bastardised Moores law kept us upgrading but that has come to a grinding halt.

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              March 7, 2016 10:53 AM

              I'd guess that with the USB 3.0 port on the left side of the console, they're thinking of using that port for hardware additions.

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        March 7, 2016 7:21 AM

        My guess is they didn't want to start up a new project at Lionhead and it was easier to just shut the studio down and eat the sunk development costs of Fable, than to lay off people at the studio.

        It seems to me more than Microsoft scaling back they are going to focus on a new console launch, much the same way they did with the original Xbox in cutting it's life short. And also leveraging the fact that the only other place to play AAA games besides the consoles is the PC which they own as well.

        Microsoft is still in the middle of shifting from a software company to a devices and services company. And are building a universal platform. So you will be able to go in to a store and buy your $150-200 Xbox One set top box to play games with less fidelity than the $300-400 Xbox One v2 (w Oculus support), or get the best graphics on your $1000 PC, or $1500 Surface. All running Windows 10.

        Then in 3 years you get your Xbox One v3. And be able to buy your Roku style $50 Xbox One that can play all of the Xbox One, and Xbox One v2 games but not the games tailor built for Xbox One v3. But by that time you will also have your x86 Windows Phone that can play Xbox One games as well.

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        March 7, 2016 7:22 AM

        My guess is, like Command and Conquer Generals 2, their analytics showed they were never actually going to make any money off it.

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        March 7, 2016 7:49 AM

        They're doubling-down on their commitment to PC-gaming.

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        March 7, 2016 9:33 AM

        I think Microsoft's install base is too small to support these larger projects if they aren't going to guarantee a return. I think Microsoft may not be seeing a good return on investing in exclusives either. The gap between the XboxOne and PS4 sales can't be ignored, especially since they're pretty much identical.

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          March 7, 2016 5:09 PM

          I think the install base of Xbox and PC makes up a giant part of the gaming market. compared to PS4.

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            March 7, 2016 5:35 PM

            Yes, but Microsoft isn't exactly making money of people buying games on PC. Even if they make their games available they'll have to do a lot to make it enticing. The general consensus with how games work with the Windows store on Windows 10 is that it's bad in comparison. We're talking GFWL 2.0

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        March 7, 2016 11:34 AM

        I don't think Satya Nadella sees MS as an entertainment company. He seems to be slowly walking back a lot of the moves Ballmer made. I wouldn't be shocked if in 5 years there is no more Xbox/Windows Phone/Surface divisions at MS.

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      March 7, 2016 7:57 AM

      Gee, people weren't excited about a F2P Fable spin-off? Who would've thought?

      There's no way they don't know damn well that Fable fans would be excited about a *real* Fable game coming to XBO (and PC, ideally).

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        March 7, 2016 8:20 AM

        Yeah make an actual Fable game and do it properly.

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        March 7, 2016 9:47 AM

        I thought Fable stuff has always sold really well, even when it was the side stuff that was kinda phoned in.

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          March 7, 2016 9:56 AM

          People thought that about Age of Empires as well, and were really confused when Microsoft shut down Ensemble Studios.

          Years later former Ensemble devs in interviews admitted that the games had not been selling nearly as well as people thought. That's why those two guys left early to form Newtoy and make Words with Friends - they saw the writing on the wall.

          It's possible Lionhead has been circling the drain for a while now.

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        March 7, 2016 10:03 AM

        Agreed. A proper Fable sequel would make me go out and buy an XBO... if, that is, it wasn't coming to PC as well. Most of those games have. Assuming that wasn't a possibility, a Fable 4 or equivalent would justify the cost of a console for me.

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          March 7, 2016 10:32 AM

          Yup. That's what I've been thinking since launch.

          But now that it seems like most of the games are coming to PC anyway, I'll probably never have a reason to get one.

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        March 7, 2016 5:58 PM

        Yeah I'm on the fence about getting one for Crackdown 3, but I'd definitely get one for a Fable 4.

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        March 7, 2016 7:15 PM

        Exactly. A proper Fable 4 would be awesome.

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      March 7, 2016 8:20 AM

      They should have made a Fable 4 instead of a connect game no one wanted and Legends a game no one wanted.

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        March 7, 2016 9:36 AM

        Gotta show that they care about Kinect somehow. Putting a somewhat large IP on it is about all they can do.

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      March 7, 2016 10:03 AM

      sadface

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      March 7, 2016 11:02 AM

      Rip lionhead :(

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      March 7, 2016 11:31 AM

      Just looked it up, I did not finish or even like a single game they released. Bullfrog I mourned for. I feel sorry for the guys that got the boot but its not a studio closure that has me on suicide watch.

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      March 7, 2016 5:36 PM

      Crazy, but really it doesn't surprise me :(

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      March 7, 2016 8:38 PM

      All I wanted was another story driven Fable game with solid coop :(

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      March 7, 2016 9:21 PM

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