Well then…did not see this one coming.
Microsoft Studios has announced that Fable Legends, the latest title in Lionhead Studios’ Fable game series that’s been in the works for a few years now, has been canceled, and that Lionhead itself might get shut down.
You can read the full announcement below.
Microsoft Studios Europe General Manager Hanno Lemke made the announcement:
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.
The official Fable Legends site also shared the news, including important information for anyone who is currently playing the closed beta.
Since it was first announced back in 2013 the game has left a bad taste in the mouths of Fable fans. Because it was clearly abandoning what made the series so enjoyable, as well as those very same fans that helped to make it the successful franchise it was, in order to try to capitalize on the whole online 4v1 co-op fad. They even piled on the free-to-play fad (with optional in-game microtransactions available). It was all really just a disaster from the start; fans wanted Fable IV, not this.
But the game kept chugging forward. We’ve seen gameplay for it. As mentioned, a closed beta is still going to this very day. An open beta was coming soon. Fable Legends was expected to release sometime this year. And though many were not interested in the game, there was clearly still a significant amount of people who would at least give it a go, especially considering it was free and there was no risk.
That’s what makes this news so stunning. For a game to be this close to finished, and with plans already in place for it to be free-to-play…something must have been really, really wrong with it to not at least throw it out there and see what happens.
The right decision would have been to focus all of this time and resources on the Fable IV they knew they already had an excited fanbase waiting for—everyone seemed to know this but them. But now we’re not only not getting a Fable IV, who knows if we’ll ever get another Fable game at all if Lionhead is actually closed. That’d be a damn shame. There’s the chance, of course, that Microsoft could make a new Fable elsewhere, so don’t give up all hope just yet.
No matter what your feelings were on Fable Legends, you never want to see something like this happen. All of those people who worked so hard on the game for the past few years, whether it would ultimately be well-received or not, having to watch it all tossed in the trash like a Crunchy Chick past its expiration date while also being told they might be out of a job. You can’t help but feel for them. There’s already some calling for the release of the game anyway so the community can finish it themselves, which is unlikely but would be better than lighting years of work on fire. There’s also a petition to save Lionhead.
Hopefully Lionhead will be spared in the very least, and a new road to travel will be discovered for the team. But it’s not looking good.