Microsoft announced that it has ceased development of the next game in the Fable franchise and will close at least one of its game studios.
Fable Legends has been made as redundant as its title, despite consistent efforts to catch the public’s interest since its announcement at Gamescom 2013. Furthermore, Microsoft is “in discussions with employees” about the closure of Lionhead Studios, the developer.
Additionally, Denmark’s Press Play Studios has been axed, which means a “sunset” on the development of their Hunger Games-esque survival game known only as Project Knoxville. Previously, Press Play was responsible for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba.
In both cases, Microsoft has failed to capture gamers’ imagination. The only thing more synonymous with Fable than Peter Molyneux — the former head and infamous personality behind the franchise — is a consistent lack of delivery on the expansive promises made for every iteration of the series.
Fable Legends, rather than attempt to finally give consumers what they’ve wanted from the franchise since the beginning, had stripped the concept even further into a somewhat free-to-play multiplayer competition. The gaming community seems to be offering a collective shrug at the announcement. We never got remotely close to watching an acorn turn into a tree.
Project Knoxville was less well known but perhaps more intriguing. Set in a virtual game show of the future, it sought to capture the essential spirit of The Hunger Games, setting up a closed scenario in which players would attempt to survive the dangers of the environment and other players. Unlike most games of this type, it was theoretically possible for everyone in each event to escape with their lives, and offered methods of cooperation as an alternative to killing.
In the Xbox Wire announcement, Microsoft Studios Europe’s General Manager Hanno Lemke said that Microsoft is “[focusing] 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.
Lemke also made a public commitment to “working closely with those affected” by the news, to find them “new opportunities” at Xbox, or to “help place them in jobs elsewhere in the games industry should they desire.”
Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.