The game developer behind the popular RPG-action game franchise, Fable, has been closed by Microsoft, while Danish studio Press Play will also shut.
Microsoft stunned the gaming community on Monday morning by announcing that Lionhead studios will be closing permanently.
The British based developer (owned by Microsoft) has been respected in the gaming industry, not least for its flagship Fable franchise, which won praise from critics and gamers alike.
With the closing of Lionhead Studios, the next installment in the franchise, Fable Legends, has been cancelled, while Redmond also announced Danish based Press Play will also be shut down.
Microsoft Studios Europe General Manager Hanno Lemke made the announcement via a blog post, saying that the company was grateful for all the developers involved with the studio:
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.
While Lionhead was formed in 1996 by Peter Molyneux and found an audience with Black & White and other titles, it was with the original Xbox game Fable that the developer became widely known for. The series became a huge success and led to Microsoft purchasing the studio in 2006 and developing more Fable titles.
“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,” added Lemke.
Some would argue that the writing has been on the wall for Lionhead since founder Molyneux left the company in 2012 to start concept developer, 22cans. The dwindling popularity of the Fable series mean that the planned Fable Legends was an important release for the company's future, but it seems Microsoft decided to pull the plug regardless.
Joining Lionhead on the gaming scrapheap is Danish based Press Play, which is known for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, an Xbox One launch title. The company has only been in operation since 2010 and was bought by Microsoft in 2012.
While it has not been confirmed, it is likely the employees affected by the closure will be folded into Microsoft's more successful developers, such as Mojang (Minecraft), 343 Industries (Halo), and Turn 10 (Forza).
SOURCE: Xbox Blog