Lionhead Studios, the UK development team behind the popular Fable series, may have reached its last chapter.
The studio’s currently-in-development project, Fable Legends, has been officially cancelled, and Microsoft is discussing a potential closure with employees. The same goes for Press Play, the Danish studio behind Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.
“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,” Microsoft Studios Europe general manager Hanno Lemke wrote in the announcement.
Lionhead has been around since 1996, after Peter Molyneux — creator of Populous, the first “god game” — left his position with Bullfrog Productions to start something new. The team’s first release, strategy game Black & White, launched in 2001, and the first Fable followed in 2004.
A couple of other games came next, including a sequel to Black & White and oddball Hollywood simulator The Movies. Microsoft acquired Lionhead two years later and set the team to work on continuing the Fable series.
Molyneux led development on two subsequent Fable games before accepting an internal promotion to oversee Microsoft Game Studios operations in Europe. He eventually left the company entirely in 2012, but Lionhead carried on with spin-off Fable games like Fable Heroes and Fable: The Journey.
Fable Legends was meant to be a revival of sorts for the series, introduced alongside the Xbox One as a new, multiplayer-driven approach to the familiar fantasy fiction. But the game has failed to surface as anything more than a beta, and Microsoft’s announcement speaks to what must have been a troubled development effort behind the scenes.
Now, after a 20-year journey, Lionhead is on the brink of closing its doors. Microsoft is working with the teams there and at Press Play to help them out during this uncertain moment, as a company spokesperson told Mashable.
“We remain committed to the development communities in the UK and Europe, and will be working with those affected by today’s news to find new opportunities at Microsoft or in the gaming industry should they desire.”
Molyneux declined the opportunity to comment on the news of Lionhead’s seemingly imminent closure.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.