Microsoft Closes Lionhead Studios, Cancels Fable Legends

Microsoft continues to make the news, as recently, the tech and software titan has announced the cancellation of its heavily-marketed upcoming free-to-play game, Fable Legends, along with the closure of its development studio, Lionhead Studios.

Fable Legends was a free-to-play Windows 10 and Xbox One game which was in its beta state, meant to rebrand and reinvent the “good players vs evil players” concept introduced by Left 4 Dead’s Versus mode and continued by Evolve. It featured vibrant graphics and was supposed to be the “poster child” for Microsoft’s DirectX 12. While Microsoft pushed it a lot in its conferences and it was almost fully released, it seems that something has changed Microsoft’s mind.

The game’s beta had mixed reviews, with the biggest common complaint being the humongous price of microtransactions, with them going up to 60 dollars in in-game currency (the game developers did mention that the game was fully enjoyable without having to spend a penny). However, that complaint shouldn’t have been enough to provide Microsoft with a reason to completely terminate the project. Perhaps it didn’t have enough players to maintain a profit on the long term? Only Microsoft and Lionhead Studios know this answer.

Today, Lionhead Studios has announced that the Fable Legends closed beta will be playable to testers up until April 13.

Following in EA’s footsteps…

Whatever Lionhead Studios got wrong with Fable Legends, it was so wrong that Microsoft is now in the talks with them about permanently closing the studio. For those who aren’t in the know, Lionhead Studios are the ones responsible for the entire Fable series, and for other popular titles such as The Movies and Black & White. Things aren’t looking too good for the talented team, as Microsoft has already closed another studio.

Press Play, another Microsoft development studio which was situated in Denmark was the first one to face Microsoft’s harsh decisions, as it was just closed yesterday. The studio was in charge of Microsoft’s project “Knoxville”, another upcoming survival game which was now cancelled. These two announcements come after Microsoft’s decision to “focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play”.

This news came as a disappointment to fans of the two studios, and especially to fans of the Fable franchise. For now, it is not sure whether Microsoft will choose to pass the popular Fable franchise to another studio or if it will choose to forget about it.

…or already worse?

In wake of this news, people have also noticed that Microsoft’s webpage displaying their studios has also removed 5 other studios from the roster. The five studios are: BigPark, [Fun]ction, Good Science, LXP (Leap Experience Pioneers), Project Spark, and Sota, many of which were involved in projects for Microsoft’s upcoming revolutionary device, Hololens, and their removal from this roster seems to have been made in order to make them closer to the Hololens, as clicking their image on the cached roster page now takes you to the Hololens website.

It is unsure what the removal of the other studios means at this time, and Microsoft still has to comment on this issue. The remaining studios, which provide some of Microsoft’s biggest titles are: 343 Industries (Halo), The Coalition (Gears of War), Mojang (Minecraft), Turn 10 Studios (Forza), ID@Xbox (indie titles), Lift, Microsoft Casual Games, Microsoft Studios Global Publishing, Rare and Xbox Fitness.

We can only hope that Microsoft isn’t following Electronic Arts’ horrid strategy, which is buying studios, driving them into the ground by ruining their titles with DLCs, and then closing them down. Given that Microsoft will be at Game Developers Conference 2016 next week, we expect to hear more about these studios then.