Microsoft shared shocking news for two of its high-profile first-party projects in Lionhead Studios’ Fable Legends and Press Play’s Project Knoxville. Both Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive titles are being canceled by the company, with the latter studio being closed down and the closure of the former currently being discussed.
Microsoft Studios Europe General Manager Hanno Lemke made the surprise announcement of both Fable Legends and Project Knoxville being cancelled via the Xbox Wire, along with both studios being shuttered. The cancellation of Fable Legends in particular seemingly came out of nowhere, as the free-to-play co-op adventure title has been in closed beta for much of the past year and was inching closer to being final after multiple delays. Disclosure: I was a beta participant.
Microtransactions were recently added to Fable Legends, and the title was updated just Friday to add daily challenges to it. Interestingly, a post in the game’s forums reveals that it will still be playable by closed beta participants until April 3, 2016. However, all gold purchases will be disabled, and players will be refunded any real-world money spent. No new players will be accepted to the beta.
Project Knoxville was a different animal. Developer Press Play had fans vote on three different games that it should develop next, and the third-person Hunger Games-style survival game meets reality show was chosen. It has been going through various closed testing sessions the past few months, but its overall development state was unclear. Still, Press Play is responsible for the delightful Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, so its closure is out of left field as well.
Meanwhile, the potential closing of Lionhead Studios is an end of an era. The studio was founded by Peter Molyneux and others in 1996, and always had big thoughts on where to take gaming, even if it did not always reach those goals, with franchises like Black & White and Fable. The latter has been a staple for the Xbox since the first was released to Microsoft’s original console in 2004. The fate of the franchise from here is completely unknown.
While the closure is mentioned as being “proposed” by Microsoft, that’s usually because the details of the shutting down a business have not been worked out yet. An important point as Fable Legends will still be supported to early April. If Lionhead Studios does somehow stay alive, it will only be after massive changes to the staff.
The following is Lemke’s statement posted to Xbox Wire.
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. The Lionhead Studios team has delighted millions of fans with the Fable series over the past decade. Press Play imbued the industry with a unique creative spirit behind games like Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba, which both captured passionate fans. 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.
I speak for all of Xbox when I say that despite this news, we remain committed to the development communities in the UK and Europe, and Xbox will continue to support new IP and originality in the games we offer on our platforms, whether they’re AAA blockbusters like Quantum Break from Remedy, adventurous new IPs like Sea of Thieves from Rare, or unique new creations from independent developers like Moon Studios with Ori.
It is unlikely that the reasons for the cancellation of Fable Legends and Project Knoxville will be known. Typically, titles are evaluated for their profit potential and player engagement. In the meantime, there is a large contingent of developers based in the United Kingdom and Denmark who are now looking for work. Best of luck to them all.
What do you think of the cancellation of Fable Legends and Project Knoxville? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via Fable Legends]