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Microsoft closing Lionhead and Press Play; Fable Legends and Project Knoxville canceled

Microsoft has announced it is closing two of its internal game studios; Lionhead in the UK and Press Play in Denmark. The Xbox One and Windows 10 games that were under development at those studios, Fable Legends and Project Knoxville, have also been canceled.

In a statement (opens in new tab), Hanno Lemke, the general manager of Microsoft Studios Europe, said:

"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."

He added that Microsoft is working with the team members at Lionhead and Press Play to either offer them new jobs in the Xbox division or to find them work in other parts of the game industry.

Lionhead Studios was formed in 1996 and was co-founded by famed designer Peter Molyneux. It developed games like Black and White, The Movies and the first of the Fable series of fantasy RPGs before being acquired by Microsoft in 2006. Lionhead continued to develop games in the Fable series under Microsoft. Molyneux left Lionhead in 2012. Fable Legends was announced in 2013 for the Xbox One and its Windows 10 version was revealed in early 2015. The developer had been in closed beta testing for Fable Legends before today's cancelation.

Press Play was formed in 2006 and acquired by Microsoft in 2012. In 2015, the studio showed off three game concepts and asked the public to vote on the one they liked best. Project Knoxville, a multiplayer action game, was selected but now it appears it will never be completed.

129 Comments
  • What!!!! :( that's a shock!!
  • Cancelled is not spelt canceled Mr editor
  • False.
  • Dan and EVERYONE Tweet with me!! :D  #BRINGBACKFABLE 
  • Both are accepted spellings Mr. Foot-in-his-Mouth. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/canceled  
  • Depends where you're from
  • Be careful, don't trip on anything while you're backpedaling.
  • No thanks im good. Also I dont know how you can trip on a bicycle, if you're backpedalling...(TWO 'L's lololol)
  • "Cancelled is not spelt canceled Mr editor" is an absolute statement and contradicts with "Depends where you're from". I would like you to tell us how you reconcile these two statements.
  • I was replying to lord loser man so consider it reconciled lol
  • Just for fun: 'Cancelled is not spelt canceled Mr editor', which is correct on that statement alone. 'Cancelled' has 2 L while 'canceled' has 1 L. He made an obvious statement and he actually did not say the editor used a wrong one.  'Depends where you're from', which he answered to 'Both are acceptable spellings'. Since he did not refute the eligibility of both words but merely stating the spelling difference, so he did not really contradict himself. :p    
  • And it's more commonly spelt with two 'L's
  • Stop typing and making it worse, you got it wrong. Take it on the chin :)
  • It's actually spell chinn
  • And that is how spelt is spelled? This is a US english website.
  • Yes that's how its spelt. You can use both instances of spelt and spelled, regardless of which side of the pond you are.
  • Keep telling yourself that.
  • Dont need to, you're wrong bro, sorry.
  • But not canceled/cancelled?
  • Cancelled is more commonly used in normal English, not American English lol.
  • Dude give it up, you don't complain when they spell the word color, do you? You messed up and didn't realize how it's spelled in the U.S. accept it and move on.
  • Yea I do because it's spelt colour lol.
  • Huh. I'm in the North East and I've always seen it spelled with two lls.
  • We one the war. It's canceled.
  • Lol typical
  • A catch all that works in so many places. Well played. : ) Posted via my HTC One M7
  • It is in american english. And dan is american.
  • But I agree that it does look weird. Wacky American S and their farenheit
  • https://jakubmarian.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/english-traditional-s...
  • Hahaha simplified! That's very accurate
  • More like bastardised! Hahahaha
  • Nicely said.
  • That sucks. I was in the Fable Legends beta. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Me too. Was actually starting to enjoy it.
  • How finished was it and was it a bad game? Odd to trash an almost complete game with name recognition that they could have sold for some $$
  • Same, I didn't play it much, but it was pretty cool and unique. Sad to hear this really high hopes of a game is just gonna be ended. They even demonstrated this game at //build/ and E3, kind of a big let down for most people. Zachary Bowling - ZAD Apps
  • That game has been in beta for years.
  • Just like Windows 10 Mobile Sent from Windows 10 Mobile
  • The difference is this was a proper beta and players were introduced very early in the development.
  • Yeah, me too, I enjoyed it, I liked the kind of game it was and the characters. I hope there's a future for what's left of it, I'd be sad if not.
  • Whoa, talk about a drama bomb. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Sad to hear. I'm not so sad for Fable Legends being canceled though. Been on the beta and didn't really like it. By far not as good as its predecessors.
  • Why? Did I miss why they shut them down?
  • Sounds like fans weren't interested in Fable by the sounds of their statement....must be what their research shows
  • Dang it Microsoft.
  • Oh well.  
  • No way! Damn
  • ...WTF!
  • Seems everything goes to die at Microsoft.....
  • Not really
  • Ironically, whenever people made that claim in reference to Microsoft Studios acquiring developers like Twisted Pixel and the like, I always came back with the perfect example of an acquisition actually doing better under Microsoft Studios: Press Play. There goes that example...
  • @coip, darn you. You jinxed it! :P. I personally hold you accountable..... Naw, i'm just kidding. Still why axe two studios completely?....
  • Dissapointed again by microsoft. This trend continues I may look to game elsewhere. Tyler how about it Mr. Ivertedacess. I may be indesisive soon. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • What I wrote on the facebook group for Project Noxville...   I am extremely disappointed with Microsoft and Xbox for the news today of the cancellation of the studio that is creating this game. I have sat by the side for sometime and tried to support MS when I purchased a Surface RT and was letdown. Now watch as Nokia is destroyed or what was the phone devison. Xbox Entertainment a brief spark of light in something different. Now they rip apart their gaming business. I am disappointed with this trend in Microsoft. I wish the Dev's well where ever they turn up. You had a vision with this game. Great Job!!! The same thoughts go to the makers of Fable Legends. Microsoft you are creating a disappointed Customer.
  • Yea because Nokia was doing so great before MSFT showed up.
  • Microsoft is becoming an unwanted curse to companies now.. They buy the company and then ruin it's reputation. :-/
  • Lol. You guys have no idea about what you are talking, do you? Hahaha!
  • I'd say being the second largest phone manufacturer in the world was a pretty good standing (granted they did from the top spot).
  • Kalimba didn't perform well. Must have been a part of the decision. Though, I never understand shutting studios. More so for Lionhead, as the IP under the bame now seem irrelevant (I realize MS can make another proper Fable, but clearly that isn't the plan)
  • Completely agree Swizzlerz, so let down by this. Whenever MS seem to take a step forward they make a PR nightmare for themselves and take two steps back. What a mess.  
  • I had a Twitter hashtag going for this disappointment happening every time again from MS. But you're on a fanpage... You're saying the same, as I posted a couple of times. They always have a "but". Halo 5 was the biggest Halo ever, BUT the campaign is like 2 hours only. Surface RT is great, it's the future, BUT it's not supported anymore after like 1 year? OneDrive free unlimited storage, BUT it's not unlimited anymore. Edge browser is really the best, BUT no add-ons. (Prediction: HoloLens is the most amazing technology advancement and it looks awesome, BUT the FOV is so small you can't use it like they promised, and the system does not capture your living room, as it has problems perceiving the environment). I can go on and on with actually every single product they make. #TheresAlwaysABut
  • I'll add to this... my surface pro 3 got the windows 10upgrade and suddenly my pen not longer click opens OneNote. 8months later it still doesn't work.
  • Cancelling a game that its already on Beta...well i bet they know more than i do.
  • Another one bites the dust.   FASA (Mechwarrior fame), Bungie (Halo of course), Digital Anvil (Brute Force), Ensemble Studios (Halo Wars), Microsoft Game Studios Japan (Phantom Dust), Ace Studios (Microsoft Flight Simulator) 
  • Bungie is still making games ( Destiny) and Halo 5 is pretty good. They will release a sequel to halo wars as well
  • Halo 5 wasn't bungie
  • and thank God it wasn't.
  • Halo 4 & Halo 5 are done by 343 Industries.
  • Which is essentially the group from Bungie that did all of the Halo games before - they just jumped ship to 343 when Bungie execs decided they wanted a bigger piece of the prize.
  • FASA was a mess to begin with. They'd squandered their table top franchises and failed to produce a viable business for a long while. The attempt to move their IP into video games was merely a stop gap that failed. Can't really blame MS for that one. The others, however....
  • Bizarre Creations
  • Activision bought and closed them after Blur disappointed sales wise. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Fable Legends wasn't a good game I can understand the the decision there. But I really liked PressPlay Games sad hope everyone finds new opportunities. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Fable Legends was okay--not good, but certainly not bad. Given how far along it was in development, it seems really odd to can the whole thing now and not even make an attempt to recuperate some of the sunk costs. Press Play getting canned is even more mind-boggling. Press Play were incredibly talented and made some amazing games. Their knew project looked interesting too. I understand that Max and Kalimba didn't sell that well, but they were critically acclaimed and smaller-budget titles. Given how great they were, and given how much more ambitious Project Knoxville was going to be, it seems like it would've been a good idea to at least give them a chance. I'm really disappointed with Press Play's closure.
  • What a waste! If it's already in beta just follow it through for Pete's sake! Even if it wasn't for the fact they're losing their jobs - how pissed would you be if someone came along and stuck your last few years in the bin when it was 95% complete?! If they felt it had no commercial value then just give the code out so the community can help finsih it!
  • That's not really how things work, though. Fable Legends was primarily a multi-player focused game. Even if they had just released it as-is, someone was going to have to pay for server upkeep, maintenance, bug fixes, etc. You can't just release a game and then close the studio. You'd have even more chaos.
  • Aoe:o lol
  • "...for Pete's sake!" Clever!
  • What the hell? This came out of nowhere. Press Play was one of the best studios in Microsoft Studios. They made the best puzzle platformer of 2013 and 2014 and introduced a very promising concept with Project Knoxville, and Microsoft shut them down in the middle of development? And Lionhead Studios is one of the most well-known studios in the industry with some big-name IP. Fable Legends is almost complete, they've been working on it for years, and now they're going to just eat those costs? So in the past 1/2 year Microsoft has killed Team Dakota, dumped Twisted Pixel, canned Press Play, and shuttered Lionhead. Why would anyone in the industry want to join Microsoft Studios now?
  • So true...
  • Totally agree with you mate
  • Press Play's last two didn't sell well at all (I own and like them both, sales are just fact). Disappointing that they didn't get a follow-through though. Twisted Pixel released a terrible game at launch, and clearly MS wasn't excited about they're concepts for the future. Team Dakota is the same thing (and then some). Spark didn't catch at all and it would require a ton of upkeep. What held Spark from gaining relevance (largely Minecraft) was acquired with Mojang. So they solved that (corporate) issue. Lionhead actually shocks me the most out of all of these.
  • The thing is, though, that when you're trying to build a strong collection of first-party games and franchises, doing so requires attracting talented developers and getting them to stick around. Sometimes these developers will underperform, but an organization cannot excel if it doesn't invest in its own staff, and sometimes that means riding in the red for a while. Press Play did nothing but make great games. They didn't sell like hot cakes (partially because of how low budget they were, sadly), but they were always critically acclaimed and excellent games. Now they finally looked like they were getting the chance to do a more ambitious project, and all signs pointed to steady progress (they were transparent about their development process) and just like that: the project is dead and these talented developers are not only out of a job but are also bitter about Microsoft. Word gets around and this makes it harder for future developers thinking of working with or for Microsoft to choose to do so.  ​Team Dakota was similar: it's true Project Spark didn't take off (partially because of a terrible pricing model from the get-go) despite being a truly brilliant work. I know of no better amateur game creation game. And it is a shame Microsoft wasn't more patient with it.    
  • Ms is closing everything... Soon will be mobile
  • Indeed, YES. really waiting for DANIEL RUBINO to write that article.
  • I didnt like it, but loved the original 3.  Still though MS, if you want to waste that much money, throw a little my way to waste.
  • Fable Legends was a server based game... they can't release a game if they aren't going to keep the servers up... since the studio is closing they have no choice since no one would be keeping up the servers
  • Dang. This was a surprise. But as I thought about it, Lionhead hasn't really been what it once was. I was in the Beta for Fable Legends and it was alright, but not something i'd ever play often, or pay for (it was supposed to be free anyway, but still). I miss the original Fable, the series has declined ever since. I would still like to see a port of Fable Anniversary to the XBO though.
    I've enjoyed Press Play games like Max, but only as free games with gold, and only.beat them because they were easy enough for achievement sake. I'm sad another studio is closed, but I wasn't too invested in this one.
  • Ohh... You fat piece Microsoft, I was damn waiting for Fable Legends :-/ I was right, Microsoft only knows how to create terrible hypes and eventually shut it down :-/ Quantum Break will be a very big failure!!!! do they even know how to make bullets animations, it's so terrible :-/ Remedy is seriously sucks :-/
  • I actually agree with you with MS creating big hypes but having nothing to show for it in the end... 
  • I'm sorry to hear that news.. I was in the Fable Legends beta and I'm sad to see that the game isn't going to be completed..
  • Wish there was a Brute Force 2, sad there won't be another Fable, i loved the first game especially. :(
  • Wow what a shock, I was beta testing Fable..too bad.
  • Wtf Microsoft
  • That's to bad, i was enjoying playing Fable Legends.
  • Please shut down the Mobile division also and let people live in peace. Please don't try to fit into a void between iOS and Android that does not even exists.
  • Please shut down your comments instead^^
  • I'm not Microsoft.
  • Obviously. Posted from Windows Central for XL
  • They showed it off at e3 and boom dead lmfao
  • Well that was shocking so much for those game Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Welcome to the BETA company.....where everything is getting cancelled, shut down or worse yet Coming Soon ™
  • Dramaqueen.. Posted from Windows Central for XL
  • Fable Legends was nothing to write home about...shocking news though.
  • I wonder if the bad reaction to Evolve was part of this decision. Asymmetrical multiplayer is hard to pull off.
  • I will never forget the day that Microsoft shut down Ensemble Studios... Age of Empires, missing you! I don't care about AOE2 Remix!
  • WTF!!! I want my Fable fix!!!! J.F.D.I. Just F**king Do It
  • Figured Fable Legends was in trouble when we hadn't heard much about it after all this time, but didn't think it was that bad. 4 versus 1 gameplay is one of those things game designers loved in theory but never worked out in practice. Like with Evolved.
  • Did not see that coming :( hope the talent gets reallocated under other Microsoft studios and really hope they can resume production on those awesome games that got cancelled/canceled (this is me avoiding the grammar **** **** lol)
  • What? Lionhead's issue is they should have been working a full Fable game not 4v1 game. Show what difference to the size of the world the xbox one could do and have trees grown where you plant an acorn.
  • I just can't , I can't Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Microsoft forced lionhead to work on the fable kinect flob then on this online fable free to play thing , I hope RARE can survive this maddnes Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • They need to sell Rare to someone who will actually let them develop good games. All MS has them for is creating cheap Kinect shovelware that no one cares about anymore.  
  • Nope. Rare wanted to work worth Kinect, they officially started that MS didn't force that on them. Sea of Thieves is their own thing.
  • Nope
  • I cannot believe they are shutting down Lionhead.
  • That is terrible news. I was looking forward to Fable Legends. I've enjoyed the Fable series. 
  • Such sad news. I loved the previous Fable games (Well 1 - 3 and golf on mobile but not the kinect one). Also Max, Curse of the Brotherhood was a fantastic game.
  • It's really odd that one of the Fable Legends characters was part of their marketing videos for last years holiday season "Greatest Games Lineup" with Gears, Halo, and Tomb Raider. Good luck to everyone at Lionhead and Press Play.
  • This is truly sad news. I'm a huge Fable fan, and I was actually really enjoying the Fable Legends beta. This is the game I was looking forward to most this year. I'm really shocked.. They hyped this game so much.
  • So this will also the end of Tentacles: Enter the Mind which developed by Press Play?
  • Fable Legends always confused me as I assumed it was a side-project while they worked on Fable IV or something else. Such bad management. They wonder why there isn't a great deal of interest in the Fable franchise right now - probably because there hasn't been a proper Fable game since 2010?
  • ......... Wow......... that's way out of the blue.....
  • Does this mean Project Milo is cancelled???
  • I remember Press Play being so proud when Microsoft acquired them, while it was already pretty obvious that they would be killed eventually. Being taking over by Microsoft is always bad news. Look at Rare or Ensemble Studios. Of course Lionhead already lost its charm after Molyneux left, but still. Sad way to go.
  • This is really sad. The game has progressed a lot in beta and I would have liked to see what the final product would have looked like.
  • I won't lie...I'm not happy about this. I was so looking forward to Legends. I got an Xbox One so I could play it. Now I have more games, but this will be missed. Damn... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I know I'm late but WHY? DAMN IT! WHY?
  • I forgot that I still had the Project Knoxville (very) early prototype still loaded on my pc. I just played it again for over an hour and it wasn't bad.  I finally finished one game on my own since its not connected to the server anymore.  It looks like a crude Project Spark.  Come to think of it, you could have probably created Project Knoxville inside of Project Spark.  Well both are being killed off now.  I'm sure something else like them will come along later.