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Microsoft closes Fable developer Lionhead Studios

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Following the cancelation of its latest game last month, Fable developer Lionhead Studios is shutting down. Lionhead's parent company Microsoft confirmed the news to Polygon today, saying that it is working to place former Lionhead employees in different divisions of Microsoft or at outside gaming companies. "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," a Microsoft spokesperson tells The Verge. "We have nothing but heartfelt thanks for the team at Lionhead for their significant contributions to Xbox and the games industry."

Lionhead's demise was strongly suggested in early March, when Microsoft announced it was ceasing development of the UK-based studio's free-to-play online cooperative game Fable Legends. Microsoft, which said it was aiming to "focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play," revealed that it was talking to Lionhead employees about the possibility of closure. It also shut down another of its studios, the Denmark-based Press Play.

Lionhead was founded in 1996 by acclaimed game developer Peter Molyneux, known for pioneering the "god game" genre. After the launch of its first project, Black & White, it debuted role-playing game Fable in 2004. Acquired by Microsoft two years later, it expanded the title into a long-running series. After Molyneux departed in 2012 to form a new company called 22cans, the studio announced Fable Legends in 2013, as part of a showcase for the then-upcoming Xbox One console. A closed beta test began in 2014, and an open version was originally set to launch this spring, before news of the cancelation. The game's servers were officially shut down on April 13th.