The Lionhead Closure / Fable Legends Axe: An Update

Last month, the British game development family tree had one of its most venerable branches lopped off, when Microsoft announced the probable closure of Lionhead Studios. Though best known for the Fable series, the Guildford outfit once headed by Peter Molyneux also has Black & White and The Movies to its name, and many of its original key staff were the guiding forces behind Bullfrog greats such as Syndicate and Dungeon Keeper. Whatever one might feel about their status as a Fable factory following a Microsoft buy-out, there’s serious heritage there.

Recent murmurs and rumours suggest that, while a closure for Lionhead as we knew it is still on the cards, the exact nature of how it will happen and what will become both of staff and the well-into-development and free-to-play Fable Legends is still in flux. There may even be a future for the cancelled Fable Legends after all.

The reports come via MCV, who claim that unnamed sources from Lionhead have told them that, though many contractors have left, the lights are still on at the studio. A survey sent to remaining staff allegedly asks whether their preference is to take a redundancy package and leave this month, or continue working on Fable Legends in some capacity.

The really eyebrow-waggling line is this one: “One of the sources told MCV that this stems from a proposal from certain Lionhead employees about taking Fable Legends and continuing development as an independent studio. Our other two sources were unable to verify this claim, however.”

Could well be nothing, but there’s at least a hint that Microsoft have given Legends a stay of execution. It had been in closed beta before the axe fell, so there is certainly logic in finishing it up and getting it out, rather than squandering years of work. The idea of MS giving it to an indie studio is a deeply odd one, but no doubt MS would hang tightly onto the rights (and profits) if that did happen.

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  1. shaydeeadi says:

    If all else fails maybe they could join 22Cans?

  2. BlacKHeaDSg1 says:

    My dreams for new The Movies game are now crushed ;(

  3. mattevansc3 says:

    That staff proposal could be about taking the game but not the title and IP and then rebranding it. I’m sure that’s happened before and it’s not like there was ever a strong Fable identity or cohesive world.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Like the craftiest of hammering wars they wouldn’t have to change much. A name change here and there and a few tweaks to the two non-generic named fantasy tropes.

      Fabled: Legends of the Promised Acorns.

  4. Lintire says:

    I was kind of hoping that both Fable and Lionhead would be dead by now.

    • RobT says:

      That’s people’s lives and careers you’re talking about, have a little respect.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      I would have much preferred Fable to have gone back to it’s roots instead of the socialistic path Molyneux took it down for numbers 2 and 3.

  5. SnowCrash says:

    Hmm, i feel like i should care but… maybe i would have cared several years ago… maybe.

  6. Kitsunin says:

    The game actually looked really fantastic, much as people’s salt over the Fable brand may have led the common perception to be otherwise. So I really hope it does come out one way or another.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      The Fable brand wouldn’t really have affected it one way or another. 4 vs 1 seemed to be the industry’s next big thing but after Evolve tanked quite a few publishers canned their games.

  7. davethejuggler says:

    I still remember falling in love with Lionhead over concept artwork for Black and White. It’s such a shame they never became the developers i wanted them to be.

  8. SaintAn says:

    No one wants that awful scam game that’s using the Fable brand.

  9. Silent_Thunder says:

    You mean Fable 2 and 3?

    Sorry, you made the setup, I had to take it. Would be rude not to.

  10. LGG11 says:

    I was feeling like playing Fable anniversary again today. Now Im sad because I would like more versions like Fable/ Fable The lost chapters/ and Fable anniversary, as well as the Fable 2. I liked Fable 3 it was ok, but did not feel quite as good as the earlier ones. Always been waiting for more games similar to the first Fable games and Fable 2. Now I feel like playing them again even more lol.