In an announcement posted this morning by Hanno Lemke of Microsoft Studios Europe, the company revealed its decision to cancel the upcoming Fable Legends. More than just that, the announcement also states the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios, the developer behind the Fable franchise.
Fable Legends was announced in 2013, and has had a closed Beta running this Spring (as @LAVONYORK has written about). It was to be a free-to-play cross-platform game that would have let PC gamers fight against console gamers.
The announcement doesn't get specific, but it just sounds like dwindling interest in the Fable series (and others) has pushed Microsoft to just cut their losses.
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.
For anyone not up to date on Lionhead Studios' history, the studio began in 1996, founded by legendary (Fabled? Eh? EH?) director Peter Molyneux. Their first successful title was Black and White, a 2001 PC game where you played as a bona fide god.
In fact, Molyneux is credited with inventing the 'god genre' of video games, starting with his first game - before Lionhead - Populus. Though he's seen better days with that.
Molyneux left Lionhead in 2012, after 4 different Fable games, and a decline in interest for the franchise, to go work at 22Cans, a small studio founded by former Lionhead CTO Tim Rance.
Seeing the closure of Lionhead Studios is a loss to the industry, certainly. Perhaps not an altogether unexpected one, but still a loss. They've made some great games in their day, but their time is over. Competition is just too much and with a declining interest in their titles, there isn't much to be said for it.
Maybe some of the team will end up over at 22Cans and save Godus?