Lionhead Studios, famed developer responsible for classic titles like Fable and Black & White, has officially closed its doors. Microsoft announced in March a proposal to shutter the studio after the cancellation of Fable Legends, but an explicit timeframe for the closure was not provided.
Microsoft confirmed the closure with a statement to Kotaku UK early this morning:
“We can confirm that after much consideration over the six week consultation period with Lionhead employees, we have reached the decision to close Lionhead Studios. We have nothing but heart-felt thanks for the team at Lionhead for their significant contributions to Xbox and the games industry.”
The team’s contributions were truly significant. Initially led by Peter Molyneux, whose lofty vision for video games have, if nothing else, pushed the medium into innovative territory, Lionhead was at first preoccupied with making god games with complex morality systems. They were acquired by Microsoft in 2006 and Molyneux left the studio in 2012 to found 22Cans.
Let’s remember their two biggest series:
Black & White
Black & White, published by Electronic Arts in 2001, allowed players to assume the role of a god ruling over an island populated by various tribes. Like the name suggests, players could either serve their followers as a gentle, benevolent force, or rule with an iron fist, instilling fear in the hearts and minds of the villagers. Your actions impact the way your god looks and the cultural development of the worshiping people. The game spawned a sequel, Black & White 2, which released for PC and Mac in 2005.
With Fable, Lionhead adapted the morality systems they developed for Black and White to an Action-Adventure RPG experience in the vein of The Legend of Zelda. Players assume the role of an orphaned boy, travelling throughout the world of Avalon and aging as he progresses. The choices the player makes throughout the game affect the way he looks and the way the world’s inhabitants perceive him. The game was followed by two main sequels — Fable II and Fable III — as well as a number of spin-off titles.
Sadly, the closing of Lionhead also means that Fable: Legends, the game planned for Xbox One, has been cancelled. The studio may be gone, but their creations will not be soon forgotten.