Last month, Microsoft made the decision to shutter Lionhead Studios, and today the developer behind games like Fable and Black & White will close its doors for the last time.
Last month, Microsoft announced that Lionhead Studios would be closing after twenty years, to the shock of many of its fans. Today marks the last day of operation for the noted British developer, which has been marked by an outpouring of comments from staff and well-wishers on social media.
Apparently, a consultation period has been playing out over the past six weeks, in an attempt to find new life for the shuttered studio. Unfortunately, no buyer could be found in that time, so Lionhead will indeed close as fans of its output had feared.
A spokesman for Microsoft gave a statement on behalf of the company to Eurogamer, noting that there was "much consideration" before the final decision was made. These comments also reveal that Lionhead employees were consulted about the prospect of closing the studio down.
However, Microsoft's official outlook on the situation does focus on the positives. The spokesman offers "heart-felt thanks" to the team, and praises its output, noting its "significant contributions to Xbox and the games industry."
Lionhead was founded in 1996 by the ever-controversial Peter Molyneux. The company rose to prominence with the classic PC strategy title Black & White, before turning its attention to the nascent Xbox platform for the release of Fable.
Fable would go on to become something of a defining IP for the Xbox brand, filling the role of its flagship RPG — in stark contrast to the shooters that the console was typically known for. Two sequels followed, as well as a pair of spin-offs and a remake of the first installment to mark its tenth anniversary.
However, the studio would also amass a collection of intriguing games that were cancelled before they saw release. This happened to early Xbox exclusive BC, the third entry in the Black & White series, and the game that the studio was working on when it was closed: Fable Legends.
The last item on that list is perhaps the most surprising, as Legends was deep into development when the decision was made to shutter Lionhead. The game had been shown off since 2013, and by most accounts was shaping up to be a worthy reinvention of the series.
There had been hope that the development of Fable Legends would continue, but that seems to have been extinguished based on today being the last day for Lionhead staff. Here's hoping that all the talented people affected by the closure can land on their feet.