Microsoft Confirms Closure of Lionhead Studios

Microsoft Confirms Closure of Lionhead Studios

Microsoft confirmed today that Fable developer Lionhead Studios is closing its doors today.

Last month Microsoft revealed that it would be canceling Fable Legends - although the game remained available in beta through April 13 - and further that the company had entered discussions about a "proposed closure" of Fable developer Lionhead Studios.

"Today we announced that we have made the difficult decision to cease development on Fable Legends, and are in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios," the announcement read. "These decisions were not made lightly, nor do they reflect the talent of the studio, rather they are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and engaging to play."

Today, it was confirmed - Lionhead Studios has been closed.

"We can confirm that after much consideration over the six week consultation period with Lionhead employees, we have reached the decision to close Lionhead Studios," Microsoft told Eurogamer today. "We have nothing but heart-felt thanks for the team at Lionhead for their significant contributions to Xbox and the games industry."

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Lizzy Finnegan:

"Today we announced that we have made the difficult decision to cease development on Fable Legends, and are in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios," the announcement read. "These decisions were not made lightly, nor do they reflect the talent of the studio, rather they are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and engaging to play."

Salt on the wound, huh?

Reminds me, I never did play Black & White 2. Maybe I should get on that.

Black & White 2....

awesome game under Lion's Head studios (when they were under EA). Too bady they couldn't go back to making that kind.

This takes me back to the old days of playing Black and White on my parents' PC. Goodnight, sweet prince.

Should have just made fable 4...

The art in that twitter post is making me feel sadder than I otherwise would have. Say what you will about their games, their art team was fantastic. I hope they find the work they deserve for a company that appreciates them.

Deja vu much? We know. They closed down and said so, then said we might not, but then said yeah no, we are. This is getting redundant. Maybe developers should stop hitching their wagons to publishers like this. *cough* Bioware *cough*.

Saelune:
Deja vu much? We know. They closed down and said so, then said we might not, but then said yeah no, we are. This is getting redundant. Maybe developers should stop hitching their wagons to publishers like this. *cough* Bioware *cough*.

I don't know if I'd blame Microsoft in this case, I lay the blame at Molyneux's feet. He's been releasing over-hyped mediocrity over the last decade.

Rednog:

Saelune:
Deja vu much? We know. They closed down and said so, then said we might not, but then said yeah no, we are. This is getting redundant. Maybe developers should stop hitching their wagons to publishers like this. *cough* Bioware *cough*.

I don't know if I'd blame Microsoft in this case, I lay the blame at Molyneux's feet. He's been releasing over-hyped mediocrity over the last decade.

Hes been gone from Lionhead for a few years now, so no, I wont blame him. Yes he gets way too carried away and his games suffer for it, but atleast he had a vision, imagination, and ambition. Fable was still fun for the first 2 games.

Saelune:

Rednog:

Saelune:
Deja vu much? We know. They closed down and said so, then said we might not, but then said yeah no, we are. This is getting redundant. Maybe developers should stop hitching their wagons to publishers like this. *cough* Bioware *cough*.

I don't know if I'd blame Microsoft in this case, I lay the blame at Molyneux's feet. He's been releasing over-hyped mediocrity over the last decade.

Hes been gone from Lionhead for a few years now, so no, I wont blame him. Yes he gets way too carried away and his games suffer for it, but atleast he had a vision, imagination, and ambition. Fable was still fun for the first 2 games.

Lionhead didn't really make anything after Molyneux left, the only game they had post his leaving was Anniversary. Even then when people dumped kickstarter money at his feet he released more schlock. Don't get me wrong it's nice to have vision, imagination, and ambition; but he reached a point where it became mismanagement. Molyneux's ability to manage a team is almost as bad as Schaffer's ability to manage money.

Rednog:

Saelune:

Rednog:

I don't know if I'd blame Microsoft in this case, I lay the blame at Molyneux's feet. He's been releasing over-hyped mediocrity over the last decade.

Hes been gone from Lionhead for a few years now, so no, I wont blame him. Yes he gets way too carried away and his games suffer for it, but atleast he had a vision, imagination, and ambition. Fable was still fun for the first 2 games.

Lionhead didn't really make anything after Molyneux left, the only game they had post his leaving was Anniversary. Even then when people dumped kickstarter money at his feet he released more schlock. Don't get me wrong it's nice to have vision, imagination, and ambition; but he reached a point where it became mismanagement. Molyneux's ability to manage a team is almost as bad as Schaffer's ability to manage money.

Maybe they shouldn't have to do those things then. They are ideamen, not managers or accountants.

Saelune:
Maybe they shouldn't have to do those things then. They are ideamen, not managers or accountants.

Actually, I'm with Saelune on this one. For anyone that thinks Molyneux is a garbage dev because of the hype he keeps giving, look at the dev times for Fable 1, 2, and 3. And notice how they grow shorter by a year every time. Fable 3 was basically cut down to 1 or 2 years of dev time. So yeah, I'm gonna go with Microsoft on this one for who gets the major part of the blame.

Arnoxthe1:

Saelune:
Maybe they shouldn't have to do those things then. They are ideamen, not managers or accountants.

Actually, I'm with Saelune on this one. For anyone that thinks Molyneux is a garbage dev because of the hype he keeps giving, look at the dev times for Fable 1, 2, and 3. And notice how they grow shorter by a year every time. Fable 3 was basically cut down to 1 or 2 years of dev time. So yeah, I'm gonna go with Microsoft on this one for who gets the major part of the blame.

I'm as much of Molynuex fan as the next person and what he did at Bullfrog and Lionhead will never be forgotten.

That being said, He's up there with Tim Schaffer in terms of money management and Godus/Fable 3/That project Natal speech speak louder than anything else.

Rednog:

Saelune:
Deja vu much? We know. They closed down and said so, then said we might not, but then said yeah no, we are. This is getting redundant. Maybe developers should stop hitching their wagons to publishers like this. *cough* Bioware *cough*.

I don't know if I'd blame Microsoft in this case, I lay the blame at Molyneux's feet. He's been releasing over-hyped mediocrity over the last decade.

Molyneux hasn't been a part of Lionhead for four years. Four years! If the company had replaced him with a pet hamster it would have died of old age by now. If he was holding the company back they've had plenty of time to recuperate, but instead they spent the time remastering an Fable: The lost Chronicles and getting yet another Fable-game to beta stage (that I honestly hadn't even heard about until now). Probably under executive order (ie Microsoft or the remaining management) since that would seem like the safest options.

If I have to blame anything it's probably the fact that the studio has released nothing but Fable-related things since Microsoft got involved a decade ago. Eggs, baskets, etc.

Havtorn:

Rednog:

Saelune:
Deja vu much? We know. They closed down and said so, then said we might not, but then said yeah no, we are. This is getting redundant. Maybe developers should stop hitching their wagons to publishers like this. *cough* Bioware *cough*.

I don't know if I'd blame Microsoft in this case, I lay the blame at Molyneux's feet. He's been releasing over-hyped mediocrity over the last decade.

Molyneux hasn't been a part of Lionhead for four years. Four years! If the company had replaced him with a pet hamster it would have died of old age by now. If he was holding the company back they've had plenty of time to recuperate, but instead they spent the time remastering an Fable: The lost Chronicles and getting yet another Fable-game to beta stage (that I honestly hadn't even heard about until now). Probably under executive order (ie Microsoft or the remaining management) since that would seem like the safest options.

If I have to blame anything it's probably the fact that the studio has released nothing but Fable-related things since Microsoft got involved a decade ago. Eggs, baskets, etc.

And honestly, the remaster didnt really add much. I found the UI even less intuitive on PC and half the characters were ripped straight from the uncanny valley.

While I can't really say I'll miss what become of Fable, it is a shame Lionhead is closing because I loved Black and White.

Black & White was one of my favorite games in the old days...

Damn you Microsoft - Rare, Lionhead - who will you put on the chopping block next?

webkilla:
Damn you Microsoft - Rare, Lionhead - who will you put on the chopping block next?

Doesn't Rare still exist in a uh... comatose shell of what it used to be or something?

I agree with the above statements about Molyneux. I loved that man's games before I even knew who he was (Raid on Bungeling Bay and Populus). I loved Black and White and the sequel, despite there being specific annoying issues, they were both great games.

As for the Fable series, I believe it was massively overhyped by both Molyneux and Microsoft. Molyneux had such grand dreams for the game - something that was going to be better than Morrowind, and Microsoft touted it as the killer RPG that would blow everything else out of the water. I specifically remember Molyneux's bragging that you could "plant a tree and watch it grow" or other such nonsense that never made it into the game. What we got instead was a linear action-RPG with a main story that, going slowly, was finished in 6-8 hours (not counting one of the longest credit sequences I've ever seen where if you skip them the game goes back to the title screen and you can't keep playing after the end).

Fable was disappointing if you had followed the hype. I looked at it for what it was, and in its own it was a fun game even though it was nowhere near what was promised. Fable 2 improved on complaints from the first, but had its own issues. Fable 3, my personal favorite because I think the story and coop were much improved, STILL had stupid issues that you would think they would have found in testing. Instead, when you look back at all the hype Molyneux was spouting off, it was likely a case of him trying to cram too much in with too little time - whether that was Microsoft's fault for a deadline or his because of the crazy vision, who knows. Actually, if you read the interviews from some of the devs, I blame Molyneux more because of the way he would come in, make crazy demands and changes, then walk away and expect it to just happen.

I think he got frustrated with all of the criticism and walked away to do something less stressful and different. And those projects have, for the most part, been pretty bad failures (despite attracting publicity - which Molyneux is good at). Honestly, these days he's a great PR guy but he shouldn't have a say in the development of stuff.

Anyway, as for Microsoft's gaming studio acquisitions?

  • FASA

  • Acquired:
    1999
    Games: MechCommander 1 and 2, MechWarrior 4, Mechassault 1 and 2, Crimson Skies, Shadowrun (the crap FPS one)
    Killed: 2007


  • Bungie

  • Acquired:
    2000
    Games: Do I really need to list them?
    Set free: 2007 (before MS could kill them off)


  • Digital Anvil

  • Acquired:
    2000
    Games: Starlancer, Freelancer, Brute Force
    Killed: 2006


  • Ensemble

  • Acquired:
    2001
    Games: Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Halo Wars
    Killed: Announced to be dismantled in 2008 - before their last game even released the next year.


  • Rare

  • Acquired:
    2001
    Games: Battletoads, Wizards & Warriors, Killer Instinct, Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Conker Live and Reloaded, Kameo: Elements of Power, Perfect Dark Zero, Viva Pinata 1 and 2, Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts, Kinect Sports, Kinect Sports Rivals
    Killed: Still around, but let's be honest: They died in 2001


  • Lionhead

  • Acquired:
    2006
    Games: Black and White 1 and 2, Fable 1 - 3, The Movies, BC (Original Xbox title cancelled in 2004), "Milo & Kate" (unreleased Kinect Tech Demo)
    Killed: 2016

    BC looked so amazing back in the day, but it was likely a lot of Molyneux hype and disappointment. Still, it looks like a game that was ahead of its time:


  • Bigpark

  • Acquired:
    2009
    Games: Kinect Joyride, Kinect Sports 2, Joyride Turbo
    Still Active


  • Twisted Pixel

  • Acquired:
    2006
    Games: The Maw, 'Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, Ms. Splosion Man, The Gunstringer, LocoCycle
    Set Free: 2015


  • Press Play

  • Acquired:
    2012
    Games: Max & the Magic Marker, Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin , Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Tentacles: Enter the Mind, Kalimba
    Killed: 2016


  • Mojang

  • Acquired:
    2014
    Games: Minecraft, Scrolls, Cobalt, Crown & Council
    Still Alive: Without the original developer and loss of the creative vision, this is one I consider to be DOA.

    A smart acquisition though, as they're on their way to make the money back on all the different game versions, texture packs, skin packs, and tons of merchandise.

    Lionhead has been dead since Fable 3. It's just a rotting corpse by now anyway.

    Its sad to see a studio being closed but what have they made in the last 5 years? i cant remember a single game.

    Maybe making more Black & Whites and less crappy Fables sequels would have been good for their financial health.

     

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