Say goodbye to the Fable franchise!
Today Microsoft announced that it is shutting down a popular free game, Fables and Legends, which was in development at Xbox One and PC. The developer behind the game, Lionhead Studios, may also be getting the axe. Microsoft noted it is “in discussions with employees” about their future employment.
Microsoft is also closing Danish studio Press Play, which created such games as Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and the mysterious Project: Knoxville. Project Knoxville is also shuttered as a result.
“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,” said Hanno Lemke, general manager of Microsoft Studios Europe. “We remain committed to the development communities in the UK and Europe,” Lemke commented about the changes.
Fable is a series that take place in a medieval or Lord of the Rings style nation, known as Albion. The state has many different city-states with wilderness in between. One fun thing about Fable is that the nation progresses with each game in the series. Fable II takes place 500 years after the original, when Albion has progressed into an Age of Enlightenment. So by Fable III, the nation is fully united under a monarchy and is experiencing an “Age of Industry” that is correlated to the Industrial Revolution.
Fable Legends is the last in the Fable series. The game is a prequel-spinoff that is set in the “Age of Heroes,” which happens before the events of Fable I. Fable Legend is a cooperative RPG based around four heroes and one villain. The players could be online or be filled by an AI. The stories’ quests could also be played by a single player. The game was built around the charming archetypes in legends and fairytales: Sterling is a Prince Charming who has clever wit and a rapier; Winter is an ice-attacker with will-based abilities; Rook is a warrior with a crossbow; and Inga wears heavy armor, with sword and shield. Meanwhile, the villain player controls which quest the heroes go on and is able to summon creatures to attack the heroes. The villain can also spring traps, gates and obstacles to stop the heroes from progressing.
Although there is speculation that Lionhead may continue in some capacity, it is more likely that the studio will be shutting down completely. It is a requirement in the UK for companies to consul with employees prior to closure, making Microsoft’s statement about “discussions” as nothing more than a formality on the way to the studio’s elimination.
Lionhead was founded in 1996 by Peter Molyneux, a legendary developer who had previously been with the most excellent Bullfrog Productions. The studio’s first effort was a god game called Black & White. Lionhead went on to start series like the fantasy RPG Fable and business sim The Movies. Microsoft stepped in to acquire Lionhead in 2006, where it changed the studio’s focus exclusively to Fable. Molyneux left six years after Microsoft’s acquisition, forming a new indie studio, 22cans.