Microsoft is set to close the UK game development studio Lionhead and has canned its forthcoming title Fable Legends.
Hanno Lemke, the general manager of Microsoft Studios Europe, announced the decision in a blog post on the Xbox news site. In the same article, posted to the site on Monday afternoon, Lemke announced that the Danish studio Press Play would also be closed.
In the post, Lemke wrote: “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.”
Co-founded by veteran British game designer Peter Molyneux in 1996, Lionhead is best known for the Fable series of role-playing adventures, which became hugely successful on the Xbox consoles. Microsoft purchased the studio in 2006, with Molyneux employed as creative director across Microsoft Game Studios.
He departed in 2012 to found independent studio 22 Cans, just as work began on Fable: Legends, a spin-off from the Fable series, based around co-op play. The release date of this project was delayed several times, reportedly to allow the team to polish the game.
Due to UK employment law, Microsoft must begin a formal consultation period with the employees of Lionhead before the studio can be shut, but closure is all but certain. Other studios are already posting messages on social media and industry forums offering work to departing Lionhead staff members.
Danish studio Press Play, was formed in 2006 and is best known for platforming adventure Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and offbeat puzzler Kalimba.
Microsoft was keen to point out that it was still committed to supporting game development in Europe. Its remaining UK based studio Rare is currently working on much-anticipated adventure Seas of Thieves, while Quantum Break from Finnish team Remedy Entertainment is likely to be one of this year’s major Xbox One releases.
This article was written by Keith Stuart, for theguardian.com on Monday 7th March 2016 16.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010