As the gaming industry reacts to the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios, Phil Spencer takes to Twitter to promise more new IPs and expansions to existing franchises.
Last week saw Microsoft announce plans to shutter development house Lionhead Studios, news that came as a surprise to many of the company’s fans. There are plenty of people who have strong opinions on the matter and many are taking to social media to air their grievances.
The target for much of this feedback has been Xbox head Phil Spencer. Reliably active on social media, Spencer has given direct responses to some fans that tweeted him with specific questions, rather than just venting about their disdain for the seemingly imminent closure of Lionhead.
One Twitter user asked why Lionhead and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood developer Press Play were closed. Spencer responded by saying that it was ‘impossible’ to get into the details of the situation, but noted his commitment to a vigorous set of first party partners to flesh out the Xbox’s library of exclusive content.
It’s difficult to contextualize that answer given the projects the two studios were working on; Press Play was developing a new IP referred to as Project Knoxville, whereas Lionhead was deep into production on Fable: Legends. Both would seem to be titles that offer something different to the current Xbox One slate.
Spencer would also reply to a tweet referencing disappointment that four of Microsoft’s first party studios are restricted to work on one major franchise — presumably referring to 343 Industries and Halo, The Coalition and Gears of War, Turn 10 and Forza and Mojang and Minecraft.
In response, Spencer maintained that he is ‘proud’ of this output, and that the company’s plan is to ‘build new IP and expand our franchises.’ Again, this seems at odds with the fact that Microsoft just shut down development on a new IP and a new twist on an established franchise.
Spencer also admitted that he’s not the most popular man in the industry at the moment.
It’s obvious why fans are disappointed about this news, as both the studios currently up for closure had a loyal following. In the case of Lionhead, the advanced stage of development Fable Legends had reached makes the situation even more painful. Even worse, rumours are circulating that more bad news is on the way.
That said, business is often about making difficult decisions for the greater good. Spencer is being criticized right now, but popular opinion will change rather quickly if resources are reassigned to projects that the gaming public is eager to see.